WELLSBURG - The Brooke County Commission heard Tuesday of efforts by local Workforce West Virginia Career Centers to put local residents to work and made plans to consider an ordinance requiring residents to post their new citystyle addresses.
Rosemary Guida, executive director of the Northern Panhandle Workforce Investment Board - a regional employment and training agency - told the commission West Virginia has received a slight increase in federal funding at a time when all but nine states have seen a cut in funding.
That has helped the centers in Weirton, Warwood and New Martinsville this year to serve about 12,000 Northern Panhandle residents, including many workers laid off by RG Steel and Ormet.
She said the natural gas industry employs many truck drivers, equipment operators and welders and offers excellent pay and benefits, so the agency and others have been working to connect industry officials and potential leaders to potential employees.
Guida said one barrier is that natural gas companies are advertising for experienced workers, so the agency and several area community colleges are working to provide local residents training through a $3.8 million federal ShaleNET grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor. She said the grant will expire in June but is expected to be extended.
Guida said with the help of County Commissioner Marty Bartz, who also is assistant superintendent of Brooke County Schools, she visited high schools in the Northern Panhandle to share information about opportunities in the natural gas industry and the required education and training.
She said participation has been disappointingly low for the Individual Training Account program, which is offered to young adults, ages 19-21, with a parent who is unemployed or laid off. Through the program, participants receive up to $4,750 per year for tuition, books and travel expenses to undergo training for in-demand occupations.
Guida said 168 area residents with disabilities, ages 14-24, participated in Training 4 Our Future, an 11-week program in which they learned job search skills, including composing resumes and preparing for interviews, and built their own computers, which they could keep afterwards.
For information about those programs and other services, call (304) 231-1170.
The commission also made plans to meet at 10 a.m. Dec. 27 to consider adoption of an ordinance requiring residents to post their new citystyle addresses.
The ordinance was suggested by Sheriff Richard Ferguson, who has headed efforts to assign new citystyle addresses to unincorporated areas of the county. The move has been mandated by the federal government to ease delivery by postal carriers and response by police, firefighters and ambulance crews.
The ordinance establishes a $500 fine for those who fail to comply and allows residents to seek changes to their street's name but with some conditions. It states new street names assigned through the citystyle addressing efforts may not be changed for two years. After that, 80 percent of property owners along a road may petition the county commission for a new name.
The commission's regular meeting time falls on Christmas Day that week and the board wanted to consider the ordinance before Ferguson's term expires.
The commission last week asked whether two readings or a public hearing were required for the proposed ordinance and were advised by Prosecutor David B. Cross one reading is sufficient but the public should be notified in advance.
The commission also:
Agreed to accept letters of interest in a seat on the Brooke County Public Service District Board for the next two weeks. Terry Bonaventura of Follansbee, who holds the seat, has asked to be reappointed.
Heard from family members of the late Jack McCoy, who complained that a matter involving his estate hasn't been resolved since it was reopened two years ago. Bartz said attorney Wayne Mielke, who was appointed to serve as fiduciary supervisor for the matter, told him complications have delayed it.
The commission agreed to appoint another fiduciary supervisor at the request of Jim McCoy, Jack's brother.
Accepted the resignations of Matthew "Bull" Rogerson, a Brooke County sheriff's deputy for 16 years; and his son, Scott, who also is a sheriff's deputy. Matthew, who also served as the department's prevention and resource officer for several years, is retiring from law enforcement and plans to work as a private investigator, while Scott has accepted another job.
Chief Sheriff's Deputy Chuck Jackson said he will be hiring three deputies to fill the positions and his own after he assumes the role of sheriff, to which he was elected, on Jan. 1. He said Capt. John Eckersberg, a sheriff's deputy for about 30 years, will serve as his chief deputy.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)