Camp Pioneer alcohol policy under review

ELKINS – The Randolph County Commission heard from Camp Pioneer representatives Thursday afternoon about amending the facility’s non-alcohol policy to accommodate special events.

Representatives from the camp want the policy changed to allow for alcohol to be permitted at events like wedding receptions, special dinners and business functions. In doing so, officials believe a new revenue stream will be opened, allowing the facility to be more self- sufficient.

“I think the facility at Camp Pioneer supports programming throughout the county,” said Ronnie Helmondollar, West Virginia University Extension Agent. “There’s always the struggle to make those budgets and meet budgets and make needed improvements. I think if there are things we can consider, possibly having other revenue streams coming in, I think that it is worth our consideration.”

Dr. Tracy Walker, president of the Randolph County Parks and Recreation Board, stressed the revision in policy would just be for special events.

“Our mission is to serve as a meeting and gathering place,” Walker said.

County Commissioner Mike Taylor also weighed in, asking how the proposal would affect operations during camps and other times when children would be on the premises.

“We have been kicking this around for a couple years now,” Taylor said. “One of the key things we need to stress, and that needs to be understood, is that we are not doing this when the kids are around or when camp is in session.”

Both Camp Pioneer manager Donnie Pritt and Walker assured commissioners no alcohol would be permitted when children were present.

“During any camp sessions, it would be maintained as an alcohol-free campus,” Walker said.

“We certainly want to stress that it is only for events, by requests, and special permitting certainly would be required,” Helmondollar said. “There is the possibility of refusing those permits. It’s not just a wide open, do what you want to thing. There would be those considerations by the board, because we don’t want to jeopardize the integrity of the Commission or the Rec Board.”

Commissioners made no decision on the issue Thursday, instead requesting a copy of the application that will be used for such special events. The Commission also requested that Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker look into the matter and what type of event insurance would be required.

The County Commission is expected to announce a decision at its next regular meeting on Oct. 21.

“If we would allow this to happen, we would be able to generate more revenue for Camp Pioneer,” Pritt said. “We are trying to run a self-sufficient facility and, by doing this, we would allow another way to bring in funding for the camp and to help upgrade the facility and work on projects. We lose a lot of businesses by not doing this.”

In other business, the County Commission discussed a recent violation received by the West Virginia Department of Environment Protection.

Cited in the violation were several issues on county property near Crystal Springs. Steve Kerns, director of the Citizens Community Recycling Program, has a glass recycle operation in that area that sparked the DEP letter. Several tires, electronics, woody debris and yard waste were found to be at the site.

Commissioners spoke to Kerns, who was not at the meeting, about getting the area in question cleaned up. Taylor noted that this is the second DEP violation involving Kerns, and Taylor remains extremely concerned about clean-up efforts.

“I know what Mr. Kerns does for the community and know all his efforts with recycling, but at the same time, the Randolph County Commission is the property owner. I fear we do have some liability if we continue to let it go as it has been, without some sort of corrective action.”

“I am willing to work with Mr. Kerns, but I think some terms and conditions must be met. One of those terms is, and I feel very strongly about this, is that he is doing this on county property so he should be required to have some liability insurance. We also need to include in the terms and conditions that he keeps the area neat and tidy.”

The Commission took no official action on the issue, other than to agree to draft the required response to the DEP. The Commission has 10 days to file the letter.

DEP officials said no fine was assessed as a result of the violation.

The Commission took the following actions on other issues Thursday:

– The County Commission approved the hiring of David Barker as a court security officer. Barker will start on Nov. 25, and will have an annual salary of $21,254. He will be the second court security officer working with the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office. The previously budgeted position was approved unanimously.

– Commissioners also unanimously approved $3,500 in funding for the Tygarts Valley Fairs and Festivals Committee for its annual Christmas dinner and parade. Last year, the group delivered more than 200 holiday meals, with the assistance of the Mill Creek Senior Center. This year’s parade is scheduled for Dec. 1, with the holiday dinner set for Dec. 14.

Contact Matthew Burdette at 304-636-2121, ext. 120 or via email at Follow him on Twitter at IMT_Burdette.