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Commission awarded $84,160 for repairs

Badly needed repairs to the county courthouse will soon be made, thanks to a grant from the state's Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority.

At Wed., Dec. 18th's County Commission meeting, Melissa Garretson Smith, director of the Authority, came to personally deliver the contract to accept a grant in the amount of $84,160. The money will be used to fix the water problem in the basement.

Water has been seeping in for some time causing unsafe conditions, such as mold growth. Now commissioners will be able to put the work out for bid and get the problem fixed.

Smith noted that the grant application was "very well organized," to the credit of County Administrator Cindy Wilson. Wilson has secured a number of grants since taking the job as administrator just one year ago. Commissioner Larry Chapman said happily, "Those grant writing seminars must be paying off!"

Smith also gave some background information from her office, noting that 24 grants were awarded out of 44 applications. "Over the past 11 years, Gilmer County has received $267,424, including the most recent grant amount, from the Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority," Smith said.

The county will be responsible for a 25% match of the grant money.

Day Reporting Center

For months, county commissioners have been lamenting the high monthly jail bills. As more people are being placed on home confinement the bill has gone down, however, Braxton County Commissioner Gary Ellyson, a Gilmer County native, says his county is saving a substantial amount of money by incorporating Day Reporting Centers for nonviolent offenders.

According to Ellyson, Braxton County saw a savings of $50,000 from July to Oct. on their jail bill. He estimated total savings for the year would be close to $100,000.

"We've been a part of this program since 2009," Ellyson said, "but we really started taking advantage of it in Jan. or Feb. of this year."

Currently, Braxton County is in a group with Upshur and Lewis Counties, but they would like to set up a cooperative with Gilmer, Clay and possibly Webster Counties, where Braxton would serve as the "physical agent."

The reasoning behind this cooperative is that Gilmer, Clay, Braxton and Webster are all within the 14th Judicial District. That would make working in the program easier and more effective.
Money for the program comes from a Division of Justice Community Service grant, in which there is a 10% match the first year. Funds can pay for everything from the rent on the Day Report Center's building to the salary of employees. Ellyson also made it clear that they would want Gilmer County to hire its own people for the center here.

In addition to the monetary savings, the argument could be made that people's lives are actually being saved with this program. "These are nonviolent offenders," said Ellyson, "They're not hurting anyone, just themselves. So, they need help."

He said the Day Report Centers could offer about 20 different rehabilitation programs, based on what a judge might order. Ellyson also noted that drug courts will be mandatory beginning in 2015, but this program includes drug courts. Therefore, Gilmer County could get ahead of the game and save even more money in not having to set up their own on down the road.

Commissioner Ellyson hoped for a quick response from the Gilmer County Commissioners as the grant application process must be started right after the new year. Both Commissioners Brian Kennedy and Larry Chapman had several questions for Ellyson and eventually told him they would look into it more and get back to him as quickly as possible. Commissioner Darrel Ramsey was not present.

Request for Tax Exoneration

Mr. Ken Kastle appeared for his appointment to discuss a tax exoneration. Mr. Kastle said he moved to WV in 2008 and he loves the area, but he has encountered a problem in purchasing some mineral interests that were sold at a recent tax sale.

According to Kastle, the interests he bought were listed in error because all of the taxes had been paid by the owners. He had documentation that he felt proved as much and asked for a refund of the monies he had paid. While he realized he could not be reimbursed for the time he and his wife had put into figuring out the mess, he just wanted the money he had paid returned.

Commissioner Kennedy first called for Assessor Gary Wolfe, and then all three gentlemen walked over to the Sheriff's office to try to verify the information Mr. Kastle had presented.

Apparently, there was a discrepancy between the information Mr. Kastle had gathered, some of it from the Sheriff's office just last week, and the information that was available on the computers that day.

The matter is being investigated and a conclusion will be forthcoming.

Routine Business

Under "Routine Business," the exonerations and consolidations were approved, as were the estate qualifications and settlements. Budget revisions and invoices were likewise approved.

Glenville Mayor Dennis Fitzpatrick was appointed to the board of the Little Kanawha River Parkway Authority.
Recreation Center board members Bud Sponaugle, Don Bailey and Susie Kirkpatrick were all reappointed for terms of 1, 2 and 3 years, respectively.

New Business

The Commissioners voted to give $5,000 to the Glenville Golf Club to help with maintenance of the property. They had agreed on this at the prior meeting, but had to wait to vote on it since it was not on the agenda at that time.

The first reading of the Unsafe Buildings and Lands ordinance was tabled as there were minor changes made to it at the last moment.

An application for a Community Participation Red Cross grant was signed, which will hopefully be approved for $1,500. The money will be used for a lap top computer that the Red Cross can use any time they are working in the county.

The next meeting of the Gilmer County Commission will take place on Tues., Jan. 7 at 9:00 a.m. If you have business to bring before the commission that requires action, please call Cindy Wilson at 304-462-7470 to be put on the agenda. Public comments are always welcome at the beginning of each meeting.