The regular meeting of the Pendleton County Economic Development Authority (EDA) Board was held February 9 at the Pendleton Community Building in Franklin.
Chairman Kristen Dingess called the session to order at 4:04 p.m. Members Bob Horan, Joan Ashley, Dayne Davis, Cory Thomas, Jamie DiFalco, Kristin Dingess, Jeremy Harper, Carl Hevener, Brooke Alt, and Briana Bruns were present, along with Amber Nesselrodt, office administrator, and Laura Brown, executive director. Members Carl Warner and Bill Loving were absent.
A motion to approve the minutes of the December 8, 2021, regular meeting passed with a unanimous vote. Subsequent motions to approve, in turn, the financials for December and January were likewise carried with all in favor.
The recreation committee reported that EDA continues to provide support to Experience Learning on their bike trail project. A grant proposal for $779,000 and $200,000 from Experience Learning has been submitted and is under review. More information concerning how COVID has made an impact was requested. If approved, the grant funds will be used to construct bike trails, a welcome center, and camping.
A report of the business recognition committee covered Maple Days, the first of which took place on February 19, with the second scheduled for March 19. Maple producers in Pendleton County will hold special events, tours and tastings.
The Future Generations University Appalachian Program works alongside the WV Maple Syrup Association to produce a program which focuses on sustainable land-use practices and woodlot management. Training in the production of maple syrup can be had through their certificate program. FGU was featured as one of the speakers at the EDA roundtable March 2.
The committee reported that Future Generations had asked how the EDA could be involved with Maple Days, and that resulted in partnering with them for the EDA’s Be Local Campaign. The EDA will be featuring a local maple producer each week during Maple Days, and will highlight each producer in Pendleton County and include directions to their site and special events they are having – events, tours and tastings. There will be two gift basket giveaways. One of those took place during EDA’s Round Table on March 2, and the other the last week of Maple Days during the week of March 19th.
Restaurants and businesses participating in Maple Days can register on the WV Maple Producers Association web page and offer a maple “dish” during Maple Days. It features an interactive map, where people can search for and select different maple activities and tours, along with local restaurants.
Moving to the single piece of old business, the Board was informed that the next Business Roundtable was scheduled for March 2 at the South Fork Ruritan Building at Oak Flat. There will be a presentation by Robert Hammer with the Small Business Association and a presentation by the Future Generations University Appalachian Program on agritourism.
There were several items to be considered as new business. The first was a presentation by E. L. Robinson Engineering, to update the Board on the Pendleton Industrial Park Wastewater Project. E. L. Robinson employee Brandon Conley met the EDA board via Zoom. He stated that the original project was projected at $5.9 million, but they are now looking at an “individual industrial project” for an estimated $2.5 million.
The individual industrial permit would allow a 15,000-gallon flow per day. It requires the completion of a beneficiary form by the tenant, and then the Region 8 Planning & Development Council will start writing the grant. Brown stated that she had reached out to tenant Swilled Dog to complete the beneficiary form, but did not receive a response. Brown said that Loving will reach out to them to review the beneficiary form and explain that there are no disadvantages to completing it. The Board asked how long the grant process will take once that is submitted, but Conley said he was unsure. Ashley made a motion to move forward with E.L. Robinson and the Individual Industrial Permit, which was seconded by Harper. The motion carried with a unanimous vote.
Brown reported to the Board that she had been approached to ask the Board if they would be interested in selling the land behind the Pendleton Industrial Park. The Board agreed that they were not interested in selling the land. No action was taken.
Alt made a motion to go into executive session to discuss cleaning bids. The Board voted to enter executive session at 4:41 p.m., returning to open session at 4:56. Davis made a motion to select Wright Way Cleaning for a one-year contract with a six-month probationary period. Any breach of the contract would cause it to terminate and the second highest bidder would then be selected. Thomas seconded the motion, and it carried with a unanimous vote.
Security systems were next up for discussion. A representative from Advance Technology and Chad Bowers, sheriff, had inspected the Pendleton Business Center to view the building and suggest placement locations for security cameras. Advance Technology had been requested to prepare a quote to submit to the EDA to purchase security cameras, but the quote had not been received by the time of the Board meeting, so the Board tabled the discussion until the next meeting.
Discussion next turned to office equipment. Brown said that the EDA would like to purchase a smartboard for the office that could be transported to meetings and special events, as well as being available for Zoom meetings and presentations. Thomas made a motion to approve establishing a budget of $5,000 for the purpose of purchasing a smartboard. Bruns seconded the motion, and it passed with all in favor.
A request was made for authorization to purchase a commercial printer to better support the operations and workload of copies, scans, etc. in the EDA office, the current small desktop printer being deemed inadequate. Alt said she will donate a new printer from the county 4-H office that is not being used. DiFalco made a motion to approve the purchase of a printer with a budget of $650 established. Thomas seconded the motion, and it passed with a unanimous vote.
Brown told the Board that there needs to be an asbestos assessment at the Pendleton Business Center. The Board concluded that more information was needed, and tabled the discussion.
The EDA’s Grants Program was considered next. Brown said it was desirable to continue the Grants Program for small businesses. The EDA would like to apply for the Eastern Grant. Pendleton Community Bank would contribute an additional $1,750, for a total of $6,500 in grant funds, which is a 30% increase from last year. Bruns made a motion to approve allowing EDA to apply for the Eastern Grant and continuing the Grants Program. Thomas seconded the motion and it earned a unanimous vote of approval.
Brown reported to the Board that she has been attending the MonForest town meetings since the summer of 2021. She requested that she be named representative for Seneca Rocks, with Alt to serve as alternate. Bruns made a motion to approve the request. Davis seconded, and the motion carried with a unanimous vote.
An amendment to Article IV, Section 2 of the EDA by-laws was requested by Brown. The new language would provide that, once a lease is approved by the Board, and it has been signed by the tenant, the executive director can sign on behalf of the EDA. DiFalco moved to approve adding the executive director as an authorized signatory on a lease. Harper seconded the motion and the vote was all in favor. Since changes to the by-laws must be voted on twice, the Board will vote on the measure again at the next meeting.
Discussion turned to the development of a county plan. Brown stated that she would like the EDA Board’s support in developing a county strategic plan. Development of such a plan would take up to two years, and the county commission would need to pass a resolution allowing the EDA to develop a county plan. The planning commission would consist of no fewer than five members and no more than 15, and Brown would be the EDA representative on such a body. Davis made a motion to ask the county commission to approve a resolution to develop a county plan. Ashley seconded the motion, and a unanimous vote passed it.
Davis made a motion to go into executive session to discuss a personnel matter. Bruns seconded the motion and the Board voted to enter into executive session at 5:57 p.m. Subsequently, Davis made a motion to return to open session at 6:10 p.m., which was seconded by Thomas and passed. Davis made a motion to go forward with discussions with the Pendleton County Chamber Board and Convention and Visitors Bureau Board regarding future collaborations between the offices. Harper seconded the motion, and all voted in favor.
There was no public comment.
A motion to adjourn carried unanimously and the session ended at 6:17.