By Matthew Young, RealWV
LEWISBURG, W.Va. – The Greenbrier County Commission, during their Tuesday Regular Meeting, approved the hiring of a new employee at the county’s 911 Center. The hiring of said employee had originally been on the agendas of the previous two committee meetings, but was removed at the request of the 911 Center’s director.
The next point of business before the commission was to consider the appointment of Jennifer Mason to the board of the Greenbrier County Economic Development Council. On-hand to discuss Mason’s appointment, as well as to provide a general update, was Council Director Ruthanna Beezley.
“Our big news, last week we did receive a “Double A” rating from the Buyer Development Opportunity Zone,” Beezley began. “Buyer Development Opportunity Zones are more like wood-waste – using some of those processes and leveraging our existing forest product, and using that wood-waste in other ways to make connections with our industries more sustainable.”
Beezley explained that these zones create additional methods for businesses to make use of biofuels.
“We had a company come in to look at the area,” Beezley continued. “They took a look at our feed-stock and our supply chains, and they said it’s a very low risk for companies that need those kinds of supports to locate here. “
“Basically it gives us some credibility with attracting those kinds of companies,” Beezley added.
According to Beezley, Greenbrier County is the first entity in West Virginia to receive a Double A rating, and the fourth in North America.
Beezley then commented on the board appointment of Jennifer Mason, saying, “Today we have an empty (board vacancy), and we have asked Jennifer Mason to fill that position.”
Commission President Tammy Tincher noted that Jennifer Mason both lives and works locally, and is “involved in several different activities and organizations within the county.”
Mason’s three-year board appointment was approved by the commission without objection. She will now assume the seat vacated by the expiration of Steve Keadle’s term. Jeff Davis was also re-appointed for an additional three-year term of service on the Greenbrier County Planning Commission.
Commissioners next approved the purchase of 92.06 acres presently owned by the McCormick family to be used as a conservation easement. The land is located within the Irish Corner-area of the county. The purchase will be facilitated through the Greenbrier County Farmland Protection program, for the total price of $112,000.
Amy Moloney, director of the Greenbrier County Farmland Protection Board, provided a brief explanation of the conservation easement.
“In 2000, the state authorized the West Virginia Voluntary Farmland Protection Act,” Moloney said. “That allows us to offer land owners the opportunity to place conservation easements on their land to protect it primarily from subdivision and soil disturbance.”
“We have a little over 3,000 acres that have been protected in Greenbrier County,” Moloney noted. “We have purchased easements, land owners have donated their land, and we have worked with different agencies at the federal and state level.”
“The County Farmland Protection program is funded by a transfer of real estate taxes,” Moloney added. “We receive a small portion of that every month. So when I say the county funds that have been used, that’s what I reference. $2,578,000 have been used to purchase conservation easements (since 2000).”
Commissioners then voted to suspend the county’s employee COVID policy.
As County Attorney Britt Ludwig explained, “The county passed a policy allowing employees to take additional sick-leave for illness due to a COVID infection. That policy was based, at least in part, on a State of Emergency declared by Gov. Justice.”
“That State of Emergency was rescinded earlier this year,” Ludwig added. “So it is time to realign our personnel policies, and rescind the additional-leave policy that was afforded Greenbrier County employees for COVID illness.”
In the day’s final point of business, the commission voted to transfer $1,816.23 to the Greenbrier County Airport Authority to address an administrative non-compliance matter with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
It should be noted that Commissioner Lowell Rose and County Clerk Robin Loudermilk were both absent from the committee’s Aug. 8 meeting. The Greenbrier County Commission will next meet on Tuesday, Aug. 22, at 10 a.m.