By Shawn Stinson
A request of money to fund a proposed transformation to sections of the Pendleton Business Center was the main focus of the latest Pendleton County Commissioner meeting.
All three members – Charlie Burgoyne, Carl Hevener and Gene McConnell – attended the July 19 meeting in the Pendleton County Courthouse.
Laura Brown, Pendleton County Economic and Community Development Authority executive director, and Kristin Dingess, PCEDA board chairman, requested nearly $32,500 from the commissioners to hire E.T. Bogges Architect, based in Princeton, to evaluate transforming unused sections of the Pendleton Business Center to an office space to permit people to work remotely at the building.
Dingess said it is a “multiphase project” and the office space would “benefit the people who are currently in the county, but also benefit people that are thinking about moving to the county.” McConnell added the plan would transform the PBC from “a liability to an asset.”
The initial evaluation would include reviewing the plan of the building, conducting an inspection of the exterior and interior of the building and performing field measures of work.
The commissioners unanimously approved using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for the project.
Brown also addressed the commissioners regarding a new marketing campaign for the county. She discussed the new slogan and logo of “Pendleton Rocks – Worth the Climb.” Brown added there is possible legislation to add caving, rock climbing and spelunking into state code and remove liability from property owners.
Elise White, county clerk, submitted a 2021-22 budget carryover to be approved by the commissioners. White said the carryover was for more than $375,000. She highlighted the additional funds have been allocated to various accounts. The commissioners unanimously OK’d the budget carryover and the allocation submitted by White.
Earlier in the meeting, White led the discussion on possible revisions to the county employee handbook. The first centered on the vacation policy for re-hired employees. The commissioners unanimously voted to update the vacation policy to state re-hired employees would begin to accrue vacation time as a new employee. The commissioners also unanimously voted to add the new Emergency Medical Services Retirement System to the retirement section.
In other action, Diana Mitchell, county 911 director, and Rick Gillespie, county emergency services coordinator, addressed the commissioners regarding lightning damaging equipment at the county’s 911 center. Gillespie informed the commissioners the 911 center trunk lines are copper and he is discussing switching them to fiber with Frontier officials. He believes the lightning is “riding in” on the copper lines and damaging the equipment in the center.
Gillespie said when upgrades are performed in the fall at the center, additional grounding will be installed to attempt to prevent additional damage from lightning strikes.
Gillespie also discussed the replacement of street signs in the county. He said there are three individuals who install signs. He recommended the trio should be listed as independent contractors. He said currently one individual receives the money for installing the signs and disperses the funds to the other individuals.
Gillespie added the county will now be purchasing street signs from Prison Industries in Fayette County. He said the cost will drop to nearly $19 per sign. The county had purchased signs from Safety Caution Equipment in Charleston. Each sign cost approximately $43 per sign. Gillespie said it was “a no-brainer” to switch providers.
The commissioners unanimously approved issuing the commission to Sheriff Chad Bowers for tax collections from the 2021-22 fiscal year. The commission is for $15,000 – the maximum permitted by state code. They also unanimously OK’d the financial statement for the month of June submitted by the Pendleton County Sheriff’s Office.
The commissioners unanimously approved the estate settlements and exonerations. They also unanimously OK’d the bills submitted since the previous meeting.
Rhett Dusenberry, a representative from Rep. Alex X. Mooney (R) office, discussed various topics with the meeting attendees.
The minutes from the July 5 meeting were unanimously approved by the commissioners without comment. The next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 2 in the county courthouse.