By Matthew Young, RealWV
LEWISBURG, W.Va. – The Greenbrier County Commission, on Tuesday, took several moments to applaud the accomplishment of eighth grader Lydia Jackson, whose submission received honorable mention in the 2023 County Commissioners Association Essay Contest
“The County Commissioners Association does an essay contest every year – ‘How my County Commission makes life better,’” Commission President Tammy Tincher said. “This is for all eighth grade students across the State of West Virginia to participate, along with their teachers.”
Tincher noted that prizes are awarded for the top three essays throughout the state.
“We have a student here at Eastern Greenbrier Middle School (EGMS) who was awarded Honorable Mention,” Tincher said. “Her name is Lydia Jackson, and her teacher is Michael Anderson.”
For their efforts, both Jackson and Anderson will receive a monetary award of $50 from the County Commissioners Association, which Tincher will personally deliver to EGMS.
“It was very nice that several students submitted essays from the two middle schools (Eastern and Western greenbrier), and we’re glad that we had an award recipient,” Tincher added.
The Commission next heard presentations from both Amy Hubbard with West Virginia Helping Hands, as well as Executive Director Dean Meadows of the West Virginia E-911 Council.
A Ronceverte-based non-profit organization, West Virginia Helping Hands provides assistance to the public, typically in the form of food, clothing, and shelter.
“Helping Hands was formed in January of 2021, as a response to the growing – what I perceive as – crisis in our communities, ” Hubbard began. “West Virginia Helping Hands is an organization that addresses and recognizes the struggles in disadvantaged families, specifically those that may not have a specific place to live.”
Hubbard noted that a purchase agreement has been reached between Helping Hands, and the owners of the former hospital building in Ronceverte. According to Hubbard, the unused building will be transformed into a “residential education center.”
“It is not a homeless shelter,” Hubbard stressed. “That’s a really big misconception.”
Hubbard further explained that, once complete, the building will provide temporary housing for individuals in need, while also providing them with the tools necessary to rejoin the workforce and become self-sufficient.
“We are not drug addiction counseling,” Hubbard added. “We are not set up to handle those (experiencing) withdrawal, nor do we intend to take that on.”
Meadows was next to present, and began by telling the committee, “We want to talk to you about the retirement plan for 911 dispatchers.”
According to Meadows, 911 dispatchers currently utilize the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). Meadows explained that the E-911 Counsel has been actively lobbying for the passage of legislation that would require that these dispatchers be moved into the EMSRS (Emergency Medical Services Retirement System).
“It’s (EMSRS) a much better retirement system than PERS is,” Meadows said. “The Legislature, in 2022, they passed a bill moving new 911 employees from PERS into the EMSRS, if a county would sign a resolution agreeing to that.”
“Now we’re trying to get all existing employees to be able to be put in there, as well,” Meadows added.
Other business conducted during Tuesday’s meeting included the approval of a new hire at the 4-H Extension Office, and the acceptance of Adam Whanger Contracting’s $7,920 bid to complete exterior renovations of the county’s Home confinement Office in Ronceverte.
“I did talk to the City of Ronceverte, and asked them about the removal of two trees at the front corners of the building,” Commissioner Lowell Rose said. “They’ve overgrown and gotten so large that they’re pushing the metal grating up and causing a tripping hazard.”
“They may remove those trees themselves,” Rose noted, before adding that Adam Whanger Contracting provided an additional estimate of $890 should they be called upon to remove the trees, as well.
In the day’s final piece of new business, commissioners heard discussion regarding the updated version of the Greenbrier County Floodplain Ordinance. An overview of the ordinance was provided by County Floodplain Manager Kelly Banton.
“The only major revision that has been added is the requirement that engineered flood-vents are actually specified now in the ordinance,” Banto said. “Before, (the previous ordinance version) they (builders) had the option of doing the other (non-engineered flood vents) vents. The problem with that is your insurance isn’t going to cover the other vents.”
Banton added that the updated version of the Floodplain Ordinance, as well as all corresponding maps, will be available for public review in the County Planning and Permit Office. Banton further stated that the ordinance and maps will be uploaded to Greenbrier County’s website.
“July 5 is our date for new maps,” Banton added. “I’m happy to go over that with anybody who wants to come in the office, or call if they think they’re property might have changed, or if they have questions about it.”
Once Banton’s explanation was complete, Tincher noted that the creation of an updated Floodplain Ordinance is not a county requirement, but rather a requirement imposed by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) in order to maintain funding eligibility.
“We are simply following the requirements that FEMA has put forward for counties, and that’s what this process is,” Tincher said, adding that representatives from FEMA and West Virginia University (WVU), as well as state officials, will be present and available at White Sulphur Springs City Hall at noon on Wednesday, to answer additional questions.
At the meeting’s conclusion, Commissioner Rose added, “I want to congratulate the Alderson Archers – the archery club at the elementary school. They got to go to Louisville, Kentucky two weekends ago and shoot in the Nationals, and they qualified there to go to the Internationals in Myrtle Beach.”
Rose noted that the competition in Myrtle Beach will be held on June 9.
The Greenbrier County Commission is next scheduled to meet on Tuesday, June 6, at 10 a.m.