Commission announces 2014 goals

PHILIPPI – Barbour County Commissioners recently announced their plans for 2014 and also reflected on some of their accomplishments in 2013.

One accomplishment that stood out to commissioners was the commission’s ability to complete projects without high tax rates.

“We were able to complete those projects (in 2013) and not have to raise taxes,” Commissioner Phil Hart said. “We have one of the lowest levy rates in the state, and that’s something we’re very proud of. It keeps the taxes low.”

Looking on to 2014, all three commissioners said there are some projects they would like to see either started or finished in the new year.

Hart said that he would like for the Commission to find a way to fund an emergency back-up water reservoir. The reservoir would hold a six-month supply of water and feature a direct connection to the new Philippi Water Plant for potential emergencies. Commissioner Jedd Schola said Philippi’s water plant supplies about 80-85 percent of the county’s water.

Commissioners also hope to use grant funding to improve the windows of the Barbour County Courthouse. A window in the commission room that was used to support an air conditioner has been blocked up with material from a recent renovation project in 2013.

That window, and others around the Barbour County Courthouse, are in need of replacement or repair. Commissioners also said they would like to have the Barbour County Courthouse roof repaired or replaced in the near future, but that might not be a 2014 project.

Commission members said they hope to make improvements to the electrical systems at the Barbour County Fairgrounds in the park area, which includes the tennis court and baseball field. In 2013, the commission upgraded the sewer system at the fairgrounds.

In fact, Hart said that, in his opinion, one of the biggest accomplishments of the Barbour County Commission in 2013 has been the recent completions of some courthouse projects as well as improvements at the fairgrounds.

The commissioners were happy that the food court area of the fairgrounds – previously a rocky gravel surface – was paved over, making it more handicapped-accessible for the public during events like the Barbour County Fair. Commissioners said they received many favorable comments about that improvement.

Various signs for the fairgrounds were finally completed and placed in 2013, but installing a larger welcome sign still remains a goal of the Commission. The sign has already been designed.

“I want that sign put up this year,” Commissioner Jedd Schola said, adding that the Commission has been waiting for three years on a right-of-way approval from the state to be able to place the sign at the fairgrounds.

Newly appointed Commission President Tim McDaniel said that some of the changes at the fairgrounds were made to preserve the buildings. McDaniel was appointed the 2014 commission president at a meeting Thursday.

Also in 2013, the Barbour County Commission oversaw the completion of the new sidewalks and the expansion of the back parking lot outside the courthouse, which are both part of the Barbour County Streetscape project.