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Economic, social future of region topic at meeting

October 11, 2012
By Casey Houser - Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

At Wednesday morning's Tucker County Commission meeting, Anne Jones, executive director of the Tucker County Development Authority, offered commissioners her views on the economic and social future of the region.

Jones began by mentioning Corridor H and the Parsons courthouse annex as examples of growth. She also talked about the physical allure of the area.

"There is a beauty that is hard to replicate," Jones said.

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In addition, she was quick to mention the strong heritage of the region, including the family-owned businesses that are present in Parsons, Thomas and Davis.

Weaknesses exist, however. To this point, Jones mentioned the infrastructure and local workforce.

"People that don't know West Virginia don't know that we have a great workforce," she continued.

As for infrastructure, Jones noted that the lack of cell phone service and broadband internet in the area can be obstacles both to residents and prospective businesses.

This can make it difficult to hold onto - and add to - the existing workforce, she said.

To remedy the situation, Jones discussed several options.

She suggested that Corridor H could be outfitted with electrical conduit, to make the installation of internet cables easier.

Jones also said that employing a grant writer could help Tucker County procure funds for future projects.

She added that it could be helpful for local businesses and government entities to find a way to communicate better so that toes are not being stepped on.

Commissioners said that a stable base of business could create a solid income for the region.

"If they live here, we still have a tax base," Commission President James "Tom" Carr said.

Regarding tourism, Carr said, "It builds a base, but not a stable base."

Commissioners and Jones agreed that the future of the region will depend on stable businesses that create a stronger workforce, coupled with an infrastructure that can support increased demand.

In other news, Jonathan Schafler of the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge gave his own report to the commission.

He outlined next year's budget cuts, including a $47,000 cut in the base budget for the refuge.

Schafler also discussed a project that is being considered on Camp 70 Road, featuring the construction of an outlook.

This would include allowing ATV access on the road leading up to the outlook but restricting ATVs once the loop at the end of the road has been reached, he said.

According to Schafler, members of the refuge are applying for a $480,000 grant to fund the project.

Two other grant applications were presented at the meeting.

Donna Jean Bava, Tucker County circuit clerk, was approved by the commission to file a grant application with the state's County Records Management and Preservation Grants Program for $48,007.

The grant will be used to purchase and update shelving in the clerk's office vault, commissioners stated.

Tucker County Clerk Sherry Simmons also was approved by the commission to file for a grant from the state's Division of Culture and History for $14,725.

As listed in commission documents, the grant money will be used to fund microfilm and digital images and to de-acidify and encapsulate books.

Darla Stemple, Tucker County's 911 Center director, gave her own report on the need to raise the center's radio tower to get a better connection.

A "trunked" system is used to distribute their radio signals, she said. This makes it necessary for the radio tower to have a clear line of sight to surrounding towers.

She received approval from the council to investigate this issue.

Stemple also stated that she will be gathering details about the purchase of a $2,000 refurbished audio recorder which would be used to eliminate cases of hearsay and allow 911 officials to clarify transmissions.

Dustin Luzier, the North Central Community Corrections site supervisor, reported to the commission that the program saved the county $37,555.60 in July, $34,159.40 in August and $32,886.40 in September.

The figures are based on a regional jail fee of $48.80 per day to house an inmate and $7.25 per hour in community service, his documentation confirmed.



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