Barbour County to establish community leaders

Barbour County officials hope to establish community program designed to have neighbors helping neighbors in times of crisis.

County Commissioner Phil Hart said that those who will assist in the communities would be the ones to take the responsibility of checking in with neighbors in need, especially the elderly, oxygen users or those with special needs.

Office of Emergency Management Director Cindy Hart said at a recent Barbour County Commission meeting that a special meeting on this topic will take place at 5 p.m. May 15 at the Barbour County 911 Communications Center. Members of the public are welcome.

If the idea is successful and community leaders are established, these leaders would report to emergency officials in times of need, significantly reducing response time during emergencies and the overtime of responders who would travel neighborhood to neighborhood asking if anyone needed help or assistance.

In other matters, Central Barbour Public Service District manager Valli Davis asked commissioners for assistance in the purchase of a generator for emergency use. The commissioners decided they would look at the speculations on the PSD’s five pumps to determine what kind of generator is necessary before deciding to make a purchase.

Davis said the PSD is suffering from financial difficulties, especially after Superstorm Sandy and the June derecho.

“Central Barbour (PSD) right now is as financially strapped as they’ve ever been,” Davis said. “I don’t know where to look for money. We’ve just been hit so hard.”

Diane Hinkle, the development director for the Tucker Community Foundation, also asked for some assistance. Every year, participants from neighboring counties participate in an annual fundraising 5-K run and 2-K walk called Run For It. The participants’ goals are to raise money for a nonprofit organization or cause.

Hinkle asked the commission for its support of local participants, such as the Belington and Philippi public libraries. Commissioners decided to offer $1,000 to the top three Barbour County teams which display the most effort.

Hinkle also said that runners and walkers don’t have to finish the race to be eligible to participate. She said participants in the past have included people pushing baby strollers, people in wheelchairs and elderly people as old as 94 among the most athletic runners.

In the first year of Run For It, $14,000 was raised to be distributed between 25 teams for different causes. Hinkle said that last year’s event raised more than $38,000, and that it’s already on track to raise $62,000 this year. This year’s Run For It will take place in September.

At the next commission meeting, commissioners plan to discuss the possibility of assisting the Junior, Belington and Philippi police departments with the purchase of bulletproof vests. Phil Hart said that Philippi Police Department vests are outdated. He said that the vests are usually only good for five to seven years.

The next Barbour County Commission meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. on June 3 at the Barbour County Courthouse.