POINT PLEASANT — The sale of county property in West Columbia and Letart has been halted.
As previously reported, the commission announced it was considering selling county property on Lieving Rd. where the West Columbia Ball Fields rest and property behind the Letart Community Building. The property in West Columbia is around four acres and the property in Letart is 263 acres on four tracts. Delegations from the West Columbia and Letart areas voiced their concerns about selling the properties at last week’s meeting, asking the commission to hold off on making a decision before hearing them out.
The Mason County Commission has done just that and agreed not to sell the lots based upon the community’s involvement in reviving the areas. For example, in West Columbia, community members have taken it upon themselves to clean up the ball fields to allow children who participate in Special Olympics to practice sports to prepare for county and state games. Neighbors have also pitched in to work on fencing, gravel, landscaping, playground equipment and other general maintenance - even agreeing to mow the four acres.
The situation in Letart is slightly more complicated to come up with a plan for development, only because the area is so much larger. However, there doesn’t seem to be a problem finding a desire to put a plan in place. At Thursday’s regular meeting, several residents from Letart filled the commission room to talk about cleaning the pond for fishing and organizing trails for walking and ATV use. The ATV use is a sticking point with commissioners concerned about liability issues.
Marilyn Kearns, a representative from the Letart group, said in addition to organizing a group of citizens to help find funds and volunteers to develop the area behind the Letart Community Building, a neighborhood watch has also been organized. She said hopefully this neighborhood watch can monitor any destructive use of ATV’s on the property.
Commission President Rick Handley proposed giving the Letart delegation until July 1, 2014 to come up with a plan to develop the area with Commissioners Miles Epling and Tracy Doolittle agreeing. The commission asked that the committee developing the area stay in contact to periodically update them on their progress. The commission also offered its support to the group in terms of backing grant applications.
Handley said in regard to the West Columbia and Letart situations, the commission did listen to the will of people and he hoped this changed the “attitude it (the sale) was a done deal.”
Then Handley joked, “Thank you and now get to work,” to the Letart delegation.
The Letart delegation also expressed their thanks to the county and County Administrator John Gerlach for assistance at the community center.
In other commission news:
Handley requested Gerlach contact the Mason County PSD for a copy of its latest financial audit, saying the commission hadn’t seen one for two years.
Epling said he’d recently met with Judge David W. Nibert about organizing a committee of other court personnel and law enforcement to review prisoners housed in the Western Regional Jail to determine if any cost cutting measures can be taken in terms of saving money on the county’s regional jail bill. This might include using alternative sentencing, home confinement, day report or monitoring those prisoners who should be moved to the department of corrections in a more timely manner. Other counties are instituting similar committees due to the financial crunch of regional jail bills. Mason County’s Regional Jail bill for this fiscal year has already reached its projected $700,000 and July 1 is still over a month away. The original estimate for regional jail expenses was $500,000.
Also present at Thursday’s meeting, County Clerk Diana Cromley.