By Stephen Smoot
As Pendleton County awoke to smoky, hazy skies from Canadian wildfires, the county commission took up business at its first scheduled meeting for the month of June
Carl Hevener, commission president, opened the meeting, followed by a prayer from commissioner Roger Dahmer, who implored that “we pray for your guidance Lord.”
First, Karen Pitsenbarger delivered the maintenance report. The courthouse ramp’s construction will start on June 19 and will take approximately three weeks. She added, “Hopefully that will stay on schedule.”
Commissioners heard from Darren Taylor, executive director of the South Branch Valley Day Report Center, which serves Pendleton, Hardy, and Hampshire counties.
A day report center in West Virginia works with non violent offenders who find themselves in trouble with the law as a result of substance abuse. Day report center programs work to prevent offenders from going to jail, enabling them to face accountability for their actions while also continuing to engage with jobs and family when appropriate.
Taylor reported that when he started last year the center served 20 clients. Now it works with around 100. The Pendleton County office is located in the Pendleton Business Center, alongside the Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Health and Human Resources offices, which should offer convenience to visiting clients.
One major change for participants lies in the ending of telehealth services on July 1. Taylor explained that “DHHR and the courts would rather have in person anyway,” because telehealth in this scenario is often much less effective.
He added that referrals have climbed, which has created an infusion of money to mitigate declines in state support.
Taylor also emphasized that they “try to reach them through therapy and stay in the community.”
Also, Scott Somerville appeared to speak on behalf of the Facebook group Friends of Beautiful Pendleton County. He shared with the commission a study conducted by North Carolina State University’s Center for Environmental and Resource Economic Policy.
The study focused on left-leaning tourists at the Outer Banks islands off the North Carolina coast. It singled out a certain political point of view to see how likely advocates of green energy would react to the presence of wind turbines in the ocean viewshed. It concluded that “there is a substantial portion of the survey population that would change their vacation destination if wind farms were placed in visual range of the beach. Those “most amenable to viewing wind farms” would still expect a 10 percent discount on the price of their rentals.
Somerville stated that “I cannot think of anyone in this county who is against tourism.”
Next the commission took up a letter of interest in appointment to the board of parks, submitted by Amber Nesselrodt. Commissioners voted to appoint Nesselrodt, who also serves as director of the Pendleton County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Chad Bowers, Pendleton County Sheriff, reported the hiring of Brandon Ours as a new deputy. Ours previously served as a certified officer in Grant County. Bowers also shared that “we got two new cruisers last week” and that he is currently pricing snow plows.
Finally, commissioners discussed allowing access to Title II funding compensation for units who responded to the April wildfires – Moorefield’s fire department and Pendleton County Emergency Response.
In regards to Moorefield, Hevener explained that “they’re operating under a mutual aid agreement” which allows them to access the funds. Rick Gillespie, Pendleton County emergency coordinator said, “It would be a nice gesture to let them know it’s there.”
Hevener also noted that “we got thank you notes from some of the services for our donations.” The Pendleton County Commission approved monetary donations to each service that aided the county against the wildfires. Some responded with thanks, but expressed that they were just doing their jobs and that the donation was appreciated, but not necessary.