Braxton Citizens' News, Town Meeting

Christmas comes early for Braxton Animal Shelter

Evelyn Post makes $20,000 donation

Christmas came early for the Braxton County Animal Shelter this year. Santa’s helper was in the form of Evelyn Post, Executive Director of Central WV Aging Services. Evelyn, well known for her community support and involvement, was the first to appear before the Braxton County Commission at their regular meeting last Friday, December 15. She brought with her a check for $20,000 to go toward the new addition at the Shelter.

Post explained her unwavering support of the animal shelter stemming from her original involvement when the facility was first built, and she was president of the Braxton County Commission. “I am very proud that the facility was built during my time on the Commission, the way we were treating animals prior to that date was inhuman. We have come a long way since then, thanks to the animal lovers of this community and the dedicated employees and volunteers that have supported the shelter,” she explained. Post went on to pledge up to $100,000 in financial support if needed to bring the new facility to fruition. 

The donor, credited Dr. Sally Stewart with reaffirming the need for the addition. “Sally could not be present at this meeting to accept the donation due to caring for a sick kitty”, Post explained. Edie Tichner, another long-time supporter of the Shelter who played an instrumental part in the initial construction of the original facility excepted the check on behalf of the Animal Shelter and Dr. Stewart. Commission President Lisa Godwin thanked Evelyn Post for her generosity and commitment to Braxton County.

In other business, Marie Lockard, director of Braxton County Testing Services presented the Commission with her agency’s November activity report. Those statistics revealed that the organization had conducted 225 drug screenings during the period.

Tiffany Prior, EMS Director, presented the Commission with her agency’s November active report.

John Hoffman, OES/9-1-1 Director appeared before the Commission. He was welcomed back after an extended medical leave. Hoffman presented the activity report for his organizations for the month of November and requested permission to hire Sherri Garren as a part-time/on call dispatcher. She will be paid a training wage of $10 per hour, receive no county benefits and serve a 90 probationary period. The request was approved on a motion by Larry Clifton. 

Skyler Wotring of the WV Auditor’s Office appeared before the Commission to give the group an update on Auditor’s WV Checkbook program that allows public inspection of governmental expenditures. He stated that the program had been improved to allow for easy data collection from county clerks and that 40 counties were now participating. Lisa Godwin stated that the Commission had previously approved participation in the program and was just waiting on the development of the appropriate mechanism to upload the data. She suggested that Wotring communicate with County Clerk Sue Rutherford to proceed.

Prosecuting Attorney Dwayne Vandvender, appeared before the body to request permission to use 3 rooms in the Health Department building as Child Advocacy Center. Following the presentation, Commissioner Melvin Gum made a motion to grant the request. The PA also said he had a personnel matter that he needed to discuss with the Commission in Executive Session. That session was held at the conclusion of the agenda items. Following the closed-door session, Larry Clifton made a motion to grant Vandvender permission to negotiate with Mary Beth Smith’s attorney to resolve a dispute with her final paycheck.

Kristy Veltre, representing Journey of Hope & Restoration appeared before the Commission to discuss the homeless population of Braxton County and the lack of resources. She explained that her agency and church had identified at least 20 homeless individuals in Gassaway alone and that few if any services were available statewide to assist them. She added that winter weather was fast approaching, and the need is becoming critical. Following the presentation, Commission President Lisa Godwin thanked Veltre for the work and bringing the problem to the attention of the Commission. Godwin stated that she would be in contact with stated elected representatives to see what assistance might be available.

In other action, the Commission approved the short form settlements for the following: Anna L. Allen, Glenard R. Brown, Steven Ray Gregory, Orphia Mavedell Mace and Ruby J. Wayne.

A motion by Larry Clifton approved an application for correction of erroneous assessment for John Allan & Shantele D. Peters.

Only one purchase order came before the Commission for consideration. The Sheriff was given permission to replace brakes and rotors on a 2022 Ford Explorer at Evans Auto costing $692.80.

The Commission approved budget revisions for the Courthouse Security Grant as submitted.

They also approved a surety bond for Peoples Bank for the coming year.

The Commission reviewed a letter of resignation for Jeffrey Freeman from his position at Security position at the Annex Building. President Godwin said that the Commission had just recently interviewed for that position and had settled on one of those interviewed. Later in the meeting, Larry Clifton made a motion to hire Larry Hardway to fill the vacancy.

The Commission accepted a letter of resignation from Monica Stewart as a secretary in the Prosecuting Attorney’s office.

Larry Clifton made a motion to approve the voter registration list sales policy as submitted by the County Clerk. They also approved policies related to security of electronic voting equipment and extended emergency absentee voting.

The Commission unanimously approved designating the Braxton County Development Authority as the lead economic development agency in the county for the physical year 2023-24.

To ensure a seamless transition from one calendar year to the next, Larry Clifton made a motion to appoint Lisa Godwin as president of the Braxton County Commission for the coming year.

Separate motions approved the use of the county credit cards for two upcoming events. The Commission authorized the payment of $139, parking fees and unspecified registration fees, for the County Commissioners Associa-tion’s Legislative Conference January 21-23, 2024. They will also pay $134 per night plus $235 registration fees per person for the WV Association of Counties Conference on February 4-6, 2024.

Following a brief discussion, Larry Clifton made a motion to pay Advance Alarm $8,170.40 from the coal severance fund to replace the network video recorder in the Courthouse.

Lisa Godwin gave those in attendance an update on the county’s recently held auction of surplus property. She stated that the event produced $6,828 in additional funds with very little expense since the auction was held in the building recently purchased by the Commission.

The invoices for the county and EMS were approved. A separate motion also approved the minutes of the Commission’s December 1 meeting as presented by the County Clerk.

Just before the Commission went into executive session to discuss the Prosecuting Attorney’s personnel issue, Sheriff Lou DellaMae announced to the Commission that he had just been made aware the previous day that he would probably lose two or maybe three deputies to other counties because the Commission had refused to increase their pay.

The next regular meeting of the Braxton County Commission will convene on January 5 at 9:00 a.m.