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Commission to consider raising 9-1-1 fees

Braxton County 9-1-1 Director Mike Baker was one of the first to appear before the Braxton County Commission at their regular meeting last Friday, February 6. Baker requested that the Commission raise the 9-1-1 fee charged telephone land lines.
Baker told the Commission that the payroll expenses had increased by $145,761.33 between 2010 and 2014 due to a state mandate that requires two dispatchers on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He said that during the same period land telephone lines, which are currently charged a $2.10 per month 9-1-1 fee, have decreased from 5,912 to 5,233 which equates to a $17,107.45 decrease in revenue.
Baker went on to tell the Commission that most counties around the state had or were considering increasing their fees. He also explained to the Commission that there were two bills currently being considered in the legislature that would add $1.50 per month to the existing $3 fee charged on all cell phones.
Baker added, under questioning from the media, that the county currently collects approximately $399,000 per year in cell phone 9-1-1 fees. He added that an increase in the land line fees was necessary to keep the system financially solvent.
The Commission stated that this was only the beginning of the process of consideration and they would set a work session for 11:00 a.m. on March 6 to discuss the matter and whether or not to proceed. If a change is to be made, state code requires legal advertisements and a public hearing.
Baker also told the Commission that he ordered a new repeater for the Frametown radio tower under emergency conditions since the old one that broke was not in compliance with current guidelines.
Sheriff Eddie Williams also addressed the Commission. He requested permission to promote Deputy Travis Flint to the rank of Sergeant with a $500 annual pay increase to his base salary. Permission was granted on a motion by Gary Ellyson.
The Sheriff distributed a report on behalf of Day Report Center Director, Amber Humphreys who could not attend due to a doctor’s appointment. The reports reflected the increase in activities for the DRC. It stated that a total of 315 drug screenings were scheduled during the month of January and another 180 as of February 18th. The report reflected that 13 clients were being monitored on home confinement. Currently, there are 4 participating in the “A New Beginning: Drug and Alcohol Education” class.
In other business, a motion introduced by Gary Ellyson approved the short form settlements for the following as filed by the Fiduciary Supervisor: Esker Lee Cutlip, Joshua L. Helmick, Dorsalee C. Hunt, Julia Johnson, Zita McQuain, John Forrest Shaver and Clara B. Vankirk.
A request to consolidate contiguous tracts of land for tax purposes for Cecil B. Jackson, Jr. was approved.
Following a brief review, George Skidmore introduced a motion to approve the addition of an “Anti-Nepotism Policy” to the county’s employee handbook. (See editorial comment on Page 2.)
A Gary Ellyson motion approved a budget revision submitted by the County Clerk.
Final approval was given to the private road names of Jonas Road and Gary Don Lane.
A lengthy discussion was held pertaining to the appointment of a new Office of Emergency Management (OES) Director. The commission had advertised that position and interviewed seven applications following the January retirement of Fred Thompson.
Gary Ellyson explained that the Commission wanted to combine the position with a position already established since the Office of Homeland Security would reimburse one/half of the salary and some other expenses. Following the discussion, Ellyson made a motion to prepare job descriptions for the OES director and an assistant at the upcoming work session with intent to advertise the same.
Ellyson also introduced a motion to approve a resolution authorizing the president to sign necessary paperwork for the Division of Justice and Community Service grant.
Brian James was appointed to a vacancy on the Sugar Creek Public Service District board on a motion by Gary Ellyson.
Following a brief discussion, the Commission voted to change their meeting on April 3 which fell on Good Friday, to April 2.
The Commission reviewed and then authorized for payment the general county, P-card, and EMS invoices.
The minutes of the Commission’s previous meeting were approved with minor corrections.
Being no further business the meeting adjourned at 10:09 a.m. The next regular meeting of the Braxton County Commission will be on March 6 beginning at 9:00 a.m.

Local students learn
citizenship in Charleston

Representing Braxton County are (pictured left to right) Front Row: Jasmine Leake, Madison Groves, Kira Riffle, Alexandra Carr, Ashley Fincham. Middle Row: Susan Lemon, Madison Williams, Gracie Lancaster, Morgan Richards, Michael Lemon, Raven Friend. Back Row: Delegate Brent Boggs, Senator Doug Facemire, Garrett Perkins, Senator Mike Romano, and Lori Dittman, advisor.

A dozen Braxton County students moved out of the classroom and into the Capitol for a close look at the inner workings of state government as part of the Youth Leadership Association’s 8th Grade Youth & Government Seminars Feb. 11-13 in Charleston. Selected representatives from Braxton Middle School visited the State Capitol, the WV Supreme Court of Appeals, U. S. Federal Court, and the Governor’s Mansion among their activities on this educational trip.
“These seminars are a fantastic opportunity for our students to see many of our state’s leaders up close,” said Tom Starr, YLA Executive Director. “Their classroom lessons come alive and they get to meet the real people behind the titles. Government becomes personal and their minds awaken to the real possibility that they, too, could serve our great state.”
Now in its 34th year, the YLA 8th Grade Youth & Government Seminars are available to every school in the state through a unique partnership with the WV Department of Education and the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government. There are four three-day seminars during the school year. This year, students from 79 schools in 29 WV counties are taking part. The students meet with representatives of each of the branches of government, discover how a bill becomes a law, tour the inner workings of the Capitol and Governor’s Mansion, visit the Supreme Court of Appeals, and participate in a mock trial at the U. S. Federal Court. The students also invite their local Delegate or Senator to attend a banquet and share a table with them on the closing evening.
For more information on Youth & Government Seminars or other programs of the Youth Leadership Association, visit www.yla-youthleadership.org.

Braxton Animal Shelter numbers are astonishing

Julie Covert and Greg Robinson man the Braxton County Animal Shelter along with a little help from Greg’s dog, Tye who was a shelter dog before he found his way into Greg’s heart and home.

Area residents have little reason to come into contact with the Shelter and its’ staff in less there is a stray dog on their property or they are looking for a new pet. Stray and/or abandoned animals are a problem throughout rural West Virginia and the local area is no exception. The number of dogs that find a new home via the Braxton County Animal Shelter is astonishing.
In 2014 nearly 1,000 dogs passed through the shelter… 934 to be exact. Of that huge number only 72 escaped from their owner and were reclaimed. Most of the balance found new homes either through local adoptions or animal rescue groups that have a partnership with the Braxton County facility.
Only 3.4% had to be euthanized. All of which were either vicious or extremely ill. Compared to the statewide rate of 47%, animals who find their way to the Braxton Shelter are very lucky. “We are extremely proud of our euthanization rate. We believe it is one of if not the lowest in the state,” said Animal Control Officer Greg Robinson.
The majority of the animals find a new home in the New England area thanks to cooperative arrangements with a number of rescue groups in that area. “We are very thankful that we have been able to work with these groups to find new homes for so many of our dogs. We take in more animals that we can adopt out in the local area and these groups do an excellent job of placing these dogs in loving homes,” explains Julie Covert, Assistant Animal Control Officer and Rescue Coordinator.
Of course, the numbers wouldn’t be as high if the Shelter staff wasn’t so diligent in answering calls for stray or abandoned animals. “We have also dropped the fee that used to be charged to drop off an unwanted or stray animal at the shelter,” explains Covert. However, she added that those dogs must come from within Braxton County. “We don’t take animals from other counties. Obviously, we have all we can handle here at home.”
The hours the shelter is open for residents to bring in or adopt animals has also been expanded. The Shelter is open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10:00 a.m. to Noon on Saturday. The price for adopting a new pet is $99 which includes spaying or neutering and current vaccinations. All animals that leave the Braxton County Animal Shelter, regardless of their destination, must be spayed or neutered.
Reducing the unwanted animal population of Braxton County is a primary goal of the Shelter staff. They provide materials to visitors and school groups as part of their ongoing educational program. They are also responsible for enforcing the state laws regarding our four legged friends. “Of course we take animal cruelty and abandonment very seriously,” explained Robinson. “There are a number of other laws pertaining to the care of pets that many residents are not aware of. We want to educate them, but our first responsibility is to the safety and wellbeing of the animals.”
Covert and Robinson also remind area pet owners that the cold winter weather is exceptionally hard on many animals. “It is the owner’s responsibility to provide adequate shelter for their animals. This time of year that takes an extra effort. It is the humane thing to do. In addition… it’s the law,” Covert concluded.

Cassidy Dickens set to
release debut album, Ghosts

Cassidy Dickens, a 2012 graduate of Braxton County High School,will be releasing her debut CD, titled “Ghosts”. The album will feature 14 original songs composed, written and arranged by Cassidy. The songs weave together to tell stories of love, loss and life.
At only 20 years old, Cassidy has been performing and writing music for nearly half her life. Many community members are sure to remember hearing her as she sang her heart out at local venues such as La Dolce Vita, P.J.Berry’s, Café Cimino, the Mountain Lakes Amphitheater, and others. Since graduating BCHS, she has played venues in Nashville and California. She has been featured in Ca. on Fresno’s CMAC, and has continued to follow her dream while pursuing her education. She is currently a Junior at Davis & Elkins College, where she is active in an English major. She is a student ambassador, active in theater, and is on the dean’s list.
Cassidy is currently holding a kickstarter campaign to help raise funds to go toward production and manufacturing costs of the album. The kickstarter ends March 3rd. You can buy her new CD, or make a donation to help her reach this dream by going to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/856751781/ghosts-by-cassidy-dickens?ref=nav_search or go to Kickstarter.com and typing Cassidy Dickens into the search bar. You can also follow her on facebook, and watch her on Youtube.

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