By Stephen Smoot
On a cold and brisk morning last week, the Pendleton County Commission held its first meeting for the month of December. Roger Dahmer, commissioner, opened the meeting with a prayer that included, “we just thank You so very much.”
Karen Pitsenbarger opened by discussing the placement of an underground storage tank, saying that “obviously you can see the big pile of dirt out there. The tank will be installed soon.”
Commissioners then asked Diana Mitchell, director of Pendleton 911, about the rate of calls as the temperatures dropped. She replied that “this is a very stressful time of year, but we’re okay.” Rick Gillespie, Pendleton County Emergency Services coordinator, added that “they got calls on top of calls” and that the newly hired telecommunicator “got to have some action on his first shift.”
Gillespie also stated that his office had received positive news from the state in terms of funding replacement radios for emergency response. In addition to the earlier report of a pending award of $25,000 for emergency services radios, Gillespie has received word from personnel at the West Virginia Emergency Management Division that “we will be awarded an additional amount of approximately $50,000.”
Gillespie stated, “These funds are earmarked for responder radios, so they can be vehicle-mounted radios, portable/hand-held radios, or a combination. They can be placed in the hands of fire, EMS or law enforcement. We will look at the oldest radios in the fleet, about to be deemed obsolete and those will be the ones we replace.”
He also explained that “$75,000 sounds like a large sum of money for radios, however, we need approximately $445,000 to replace all of our obsolete radios throughout all services in Pendleton County.”
Gillespie also updated the commission on another grant application. He shared that the state had delayed decision on an application to fund a new tower at Seneca Rocks until Dec. 12. Legislative rule changes and input from the West Virginia State Auditor’s office created a gray area in related reporting criteria that must be figured out first. Gillespie said that “we’re waiting to hear back from Charleston” on what the county must do next, but added, “I’m hopeful we’ll get the grant.”
Laura Brown, executive director of the Seneca Rocks Regional Development Authority, reported that the RDA had “closed on the board of education building last Friday.” She added that the county commission needed to consider who to select for the county’s broadband advisory council.
Membership must include individuals representing the business community, school system, county commission, the economic development director, and an at large member.
Carl Hevener, Pendleton County Commission president, added that “we need to get an update from Thrasher, Lingo, and SKSRT” concerning their broadband and internet expansion projects. Brown replied that “we’ll have that in two weeks.”
Next, Amber Nesselrodt and Lauren Hagman spoke on behalf of the Pendleton Animal Welfare Shelter, or PAWS. Nesselrodt gave a progress report on how the organization had spent funds over the year, including $20,000 from the county commission.
PAWS purchased a used van to help transport animals, but Nesselrodt stated that their “main focus is the dog and cat spay and neuter program.”
“With the commission’s support, we were able to continue doing that,” she explained.
They also raised money through a summer flea market and fundraising dinner while recruiting new board members and “trying to get the word out.”
Finally, Darren Taylor, director of the South Branch Day Report Center, came to request a higher match amount for the program. “Pendleton County has been a pretty good supporter of our program,” he said. Counties covered by the South Branch program had contributed $17,666.60, but now have been requested to up the amount to $20,000.
“It keeps our sustainability funds where they need to be,” Taylor shared. The commission signed the requested memorandum of understanding.
After the signing, Mike Alt, PCER training officer, took the opportunity to give a certificate of appreciation to Taylor. He had provided CPR and other lifesaving assistance to a West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles employee suffering a heart attack, contributing to saving the man’s life.