Nicholas County Commission approves plan to offer new retirement system to first responders

By Matthew Young, RealWV

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. – Having no other nominees before them, the Nicholas County Commission, during their June 14 regular meeting, voted unanimously to extend the terms of County Board of Health Vice-chair Christina Chapman, and Craigsville Public Library Board-member Aggie Johnson. Chapman and Johnson, whose original five-year terms were set to expire on June 30, will now retain their positions through 2028. 

The commission also extended the term of Rodney LeRose, board-member of the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority, until June, 2026. Larry Reynolds and Randy Tucker – whose four-year terms with the Nicholas County Farmland Protection Program are nearing their expiration – were extended by the commission until June 30, 2027. 

“I would note that while I’m not a voting member, I am on that (Farmland Protection) board,” Commission President Garrett Cole said. “Mr. Tucker is the president of the board, and Mr. Reynolds is the secretary. They’re both very active parts of that board. I do want that to be stated for the record.”

Next before the commission was a presentation from Nicholas County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director John McGinnis, who began by saying, “MPFRS (Municipal Police and Firefighter Retirement System) made a proposal several months ago, and [most] of the counties are participating right now.”

According to McGinnis, Nicholas County is one of only four out of West Virginia’s 55 counties to not yet be making use of the new MPFRS structure.

“What this does is it qualifies our dispatchers to be classified as emergency medical services, or first responders,” McGinnis said. “It doesn’t cost us anything, and I would like to join with the other counties in this process.”

Until recently, all of the state’s county dispatchers, as well as many municipal police and firefighters, were required to utilize the PERS (Public Employee Retirement System) program. Under PERS, member contributions statewide are estimated to be approximately two-to-three percent higher than what they would be for those enrolled in the MPFRS program. 

McGinnis requested that the county commission adopt a resolution allowing Nicholas County to offer MPFRS as an alternative to PERS to its employees, a request which the commission unanimously agreed to. 

In other business, the commission approved the Cherry River Festival and Richwood Community Center’s gymnasium floor project current funding requests of $5,000 and $2,500, respectively. The total cost of the new gym floor at the Richwood Community Building, once completed, is estimated to be $146,500. 

To conclude the meeting, the commission went into executive session to deliberate “Homeland Security’s real estate matters.” 

Cole requested that only himself, Commissioner Craig Chapman, Commissioner Gary Roberts, Homeland Security Director McGinnis, and legal counsel be included in the executive session. Once the executive session was over, Cole stated that “no decisions had been made.”

The next scheduled meeting of the Nicholas County Commission is Wednesday, June 28. 

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