Grants, projects topics in Brooke

WELLSBURG – Brooke County commissioners Tuesday reviewed several letters received from the Community Development Division of the West Virginia Development Office.

One of those letters congratulated the commission on Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s Community Appreciation Grant, which will award $4,000 to the Brooke County Animal Shelter. Another $4,000 contribution will go to A Child’s Place, C.A.S.A., a nonprofit organization in Brooke and Hancock counties that supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy for abused and neglected children. That money will be used to renovate C.A.S.A.’s new facility, officials said.

Resolutions to enter both contracts were passed by unanimous vote.

A third letter from the development office granted time extensions up to June 30 for projects including upgrades to the judicial annex costing $14,000; two water and sewer expansion projects costing a total of $12,000; dilapidated building demolitions costing $20,978; projects related to the Brooke County Animal Shelter costing $10,000; and two emergency water tie-ins totaling $23,500. The notice states that this will be the final extension for those projects, according to Barb Zimmox of the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission.

“This is it so we either use it or lose it,” Commissioner Tim Ennis commented.

The State Auditor’s Office requested that the commission provide copies of the Brooke County levy call, notice of election, sample ballot and a certified copy of the canvass of votes for the levy and for the fire department and ambulance excess issue. Zimmox said she would gather and send copies of those items.

Revisions to the approved budget were accepted by unanimous vote to cover the costs of federal grants, assessor’s valuation, 911 reimbursements and payroll and refund reimbursements. The adjustments will be submitted to the auditor’s office, officials said.

Duane Heck was re-appointed to the West Virginia Route 2/Interstate 68 Authority after no other applications were received during the required two-week advertising period. The term lasts for four years.

Commissioners were reminded of a vacancy on the Brooke County Board of Education for the unexpired term of Frank Ujcich. Interested individuals from either the Wellsburg or Weirton districts are eligible for election to the position. Certificates of announcement must be filed through the county clerk’s office through Aug.19 for a fee of $25.

Jim Piccirillo, president of the Brooke County Board of Education, addressed the commission regarding his concerns about the layout of voting districts in the area.

“I’m concerned with this levy coming up, and I’m not sure how far your authority goes with this. I think you should look at and find out about re-organizing our districts or at least re-naming them,” Piccirillo said. “It is so unfair to candidates and voters … It’s very confusing to people. I know redistricting would be a major task, but if we could just consider re-naming them. If you ask anyone on Washington Pike where they live, I’m betting that 99.9 percent are going to say Wellsburg. People on Hooverson Heights are going to say Follansbee. If we could re-name them, things would be clearer to the voters.”

Ennis agreed that the districts are misleading on the map.

“I think that every 10 years we should revisit districts just to make sure the populations are balanced out, because populations change. I think we did that recently, and the populations were pretty close,” Ennis said. “That’s something that we will get with some people with about down state and see how to go about changing that. It’s something we would consider doing.”

Piccirillo also inquired about which entity is responsible for maintaining rural roads.

“The county has no control over the roadways. We don’t own any roads. That is all done by the West Virginia Department of Highways,” Ennis explained. “We can write them letters. In fact, we are drafting one today about Rockdale Road.”

Commissioner Jim Andreozzi noted that the DOH has been cooperative in repairing Brooke County roads in the past.

“They work very well with us. Where it’s confusing sometimes is whether it’s a county road or a private road. I’ve brought about 15 issues on Hooverson Heights to their attention up there, and I’ve probably got action on about 11 of them. They tell me that there’s been a lot of cuts made to their budget,” Andreozzi said. “There’s always an issue with me whether or not we get a fair share of the money up here in the Northern Panhandle. I don’t believe we do.”

Norman Schwertfeger of the West Virginia University Extension Service invited commissioners to the Brooke County Farmer’s Market, which will take place from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. today at the plaza in Follansbee.

The county fair will be held Sept. 5-7, and the commissioner’s tug-of-war will be held Sept. 6, Schwertfeger announced.

Margaret Ferrari of the Community Action Team said its next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Mary H. Weir Library in Weirton. The group is working to raise awareness of mental disorders in conjunction with the Brooke-Hancock Family Resource Network. Ferrari also recognized Paul “Bud” Billiard, chair on the board of directors, for his efforts.

Commissioner Norma Tarr was absent from the meeting because of a recent injury, officials said.