By Stephen Smoot
In its first order of business on its first meeting of the new year, commissioners Roger Dahmer and Jimmie Bennett approved the elevation of their colleague Carl Hevener to president of the Pendleton County Commission. Hevener quipped, “I knew you’d do this to me.” Dahmer responded, saying “you’ve got more experience than the rest of us.”
Hevener then announced a change to the regular agenda of the meetings, indicating that they would now open with a prayer. Dahmer prayed for “strength, wisdom, and discernment” to guide the commission as it debates and decides important issues through the year.
Over the Christmas and New Years’ week, the volume of emergency calls remained high. Rick Gillespie, Pendleton County emergency services coordinator, offered “continued accolades to 911.” At one point, the understaffed 911 center handled four calls simultaneously. Gillespie added, “I think they do a great job.” He explained that the difficulties seen of this and many other days calls out for a permanent solution, saying “the few who are volunteering are being run ragged.”
The county commission decided to continue compensating sheep farmers at $75 per head for livestock killed by dogs. Compensation comes from taxes paid by dog owners and only goes for sheep killed, not injured. The Pendleton County Sheriff’s Department verifies if the sheep was killed by a dog, versus a coyote or other predator. Dogs and coyotes have very different styles in killing their prey, making distinguishing kills between the two relatively easy.
Board assignments for the coming year were approved. Hevener will serve on the board of the Potomac Valley Transit Authority, Pendleton County Economic and Community Development Authority, Region 8 Solid Waste Authority, Extension Service Committee, Region 8 Development Authority, and on the Community Corrections/Day Report Center.
Bennett will serve on committees and/or boards for rural schools, the Board of Health, 911 Advisory Board, Hazard Mitigation Officer, and LEPC.
Dahmer will serve on the Workforce Investment Board, Eastern West Virginia Community Action, the Board of Parks and Recreation, Library Board of Trustees, Farmland Protection Board, and Potomac Headwaters RC and D.
Karen Pitsenbarger reported that the county would renew its information technology contract with GST, despite some increase in price. She explained that “for everything they do, that is not a bad increase at all.” Also, more populous counties saw much larger hikes in the price of service. Chad Bowers, Pendleton County sheriff, reported that GST delivered body and in-car cameras that should be installed the following week.
The county commission voted to approve days in which to hold the Board of Review and Equalization. It will be held on Feb 1, 7, 10, and 15. Those wishing to appear before it must make an appointment with the county clerk’s office.
In other business, the county commission approved using the updated federal mileage compensation numbers released by the Internal Revenue Service. High gas prices, among other factors, raised the compensation per mile for those using personal vehicles for government business to 65.5 cents per mile. Commissioners also voted to approve the list of state recognized holidays, as well as “any additions by the Governor.”
The county commission’s next meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Jan. 17 at the courthouse.