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Commissioners surprised by rape allegations

Resolution against 'Domestic Violence' brings up unanswered questions

The Tues., Oct. 1 meeting of the Gilmer County Commission was destined to be a memorable one.

The Willard Cottrill estate was listed under unfinished business and Carol Beam and Devin Heater were both scheduled to read proclamations for "Breast Cancer Awareness Month" and "Domestic Violence Awareness Week," respectively.

Commission President Brian Kennedy was present shortly after the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. He owed his delay to allergies.

Asking for public comment, Commissioner Darrel Ramsey explained that Dave Ramezan, a local internet service provider and computer repair man, had asked to make a comment concerning Devin Heater's appearance at the time she spoke.

Laura Self, from the Gilmer County Health Department, was in attendance in Carol Beam's place and read their proclamation for Breast Cancer Awareness Month at 9:15 a.m., which the commission endorsed.

Ms. Heater was on the agenda for 9:30 a.m. and she appeared and read her proclamation, as well. Then, Mr. Ramezan was permitted to speak.

He began by thanking Heater for her work, but, then, started questioning her, "on behalf of concerned citizens," about rapes that allegedly took place at the college and asking why there were no convictions by the Gilmer County Prosecutor. He wanted to know what her organization was doing to help the victims and law enforcement in their investigations.

Heater seemed shocked and stood there listening until Kennedy interrupted him saying, "I'm not sure this has anything to do with [domestic violence awareness.]"

"But she's here and I was going to ask her some questions," said Mr. Ramezan.

"I think this needs to be done at some other time," retorted Kennedy

"So I cannot make a public comment?" Ramezan asked.

"You can make a public comment," said Kennedy, "but she does not have to stand here and answer you. You can find her some other way."

Laws of privacy would prevent Heater from discussing any client information.

Furthermore, her position is one of support for the victim, not prosecution of the accused.

While Mr. Ramezan and his "concerned citizens" have valid questions, Kennedy obviously felt it was inappropriate to be discussing ongoing investigations and making accusations concerning County Prosecutor Gerry Hough's job performance in an open public meeting.

New Business
Under new business, the commissioners signed a tax form to acquire a $1,094 refund from the WV Motor Fuel Tax. This will be the first time the refund application has been submitted.

A letter was received from the Gilmer County Volunteer Fire Department stating that they would reclaim possession of the old fire house as of Jan. 1, 2014. Currently the EMS/ambulance service is housed in the building.

Apparently the fire department has not been receiving reports on the building upkeep as they requested at the beginning of this year. Commissioner Ramsey contends that various upgrades have been made to the building, whether or not monthly reports were presented to the fire department.

Ramsey indicated that he hoped something could be worked out to diffuse the misunderstanding.

Routine Business
The bills were paid without incident and the invoice from the jail, which was around $14,000, was less than it had been is some months.

There were no exonerations or consolidations, no board appointments or resignations and minutes from the past commission meeting and Health Department board meeting were approved.

Unfinished Business
Linda Huff was scheduled to be appointed as the Fiduciary in the estate of Willard Cottrill. The estate is waiting to be settled and due to the circumstances surrounding Mr. Cottrill's death, no one was willing to take on the job.

The commission went into executive session and heard from Linda Huff concerning her suggestion for the proper course of action.
Based on the information she provided commissioners, they relayed to the public that no Fiduciary is needed at this time, as there is a lawsuit pending and the case is being turned back over to Circuit Court.

The Recreation Center's pool is still causing the commissioners woes as they learned that USDA grants can not be used for swimming pools. As winter draws nearer, they are questioning whether they should go ahead and fix the cracks before the freezing and thawing process starts happening. There has been no further word from Noble Energy on donations for the pool.

One application was received for the county coroner position. Jess McVaney, who is an EMT and volunteer fire fighter in the county, was willing to accept the responsibility. After some discussion, it was agreed to submit his name to Charleston, so that he could take the classes to become a certified medical examiner for Gilmer County.

Wrecker Dispatch Tri-Annual Meeting
Once every three years, all emergency agencies are required to meet to review the policies and procedures for dispatches from 911 calls. Bill Rowan, director of Lewis-Gilmer E-911, headed the meeting concerning policies for wrecker dispatch.

Scott Dettman and Kevin Wiant were there representing Glenville Auto's wrecker service. Titan Towing was represented by owner Amy Self. These are the only two towing companies approved for rotation through 911 for Gilmer County.

Mr. Rowan answered all questions and the amended guidelines were accepted.

Dilapidated Buildings Update
Glenville Mayor Dennis Fitzpatrick stopped in to give an update on the work being done to remove unsafe buildings around the town. There is some progress being made, as is evident by the removal of at least two buildings on College Street.

"Let's work together and get some of these properties cleaned up," said Mayor Fitzpatrick. He even suggested getting volunteers to paint a couple houses that some consider to be eye sores.

Fitzpatrick is working every avenue to legally tear down and clear away the dilapidated/unsafe houses in town.

Future meetings
The next meeting of the Gilmer County Commission will be at 9:00 a.m. on Wed., Oct. 16.