July 25, 2013
POINT PLEASANT — Mason County has been approved for a $140,000 state grant which will help fund its Day Report program - a program that offsets regional jail costs, among other services.
The award of the Community Corrections grant was discussed at the most recent meeting of the Mason County Commission. County Administrator John Gerlach reminded Commissioners Rick Handley, Miles Epling and Tracy Doolittle, no money from the county’s general fund was going into the Day Report program this year, which made the news of the grant award that much more welcome.
Gerlach also announced the county’s regional jail bill for the most recent month was $55,000. The cost to house prisoners reduced 55 cents, starting July 1. The county was paying $48.80 a day per prisoner at the regional jail. Now that figure has gone down to a whopping $48.25.
The City of Point Pleasant recently asked the county commission for financial help funding its federally mandated flood wall upgrade project. Due to events which happened back when Hurricane Katrina hit, new regulations handed down by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been put in place concerning upgrades and maintenance to flood walls and levees. The cost to meet the new federal guidelines in Point Pleasant is around $39,000. Meeting the guidelines will also prevent the city from fines and help residents to maintain their flood insurance.
Epling and Handley voted to give the city $5,000 towards the project from extra money anticipated in the coal severance fund - money expected to be available after the fiscal year is closed out. Handley and Epling also voted yes due to the courthouse and other county facilities being protected by the flood wall, as well as maintaining flood insurance for residents. Doolittle abstained from the vote, explaining she was for helping the city and residents maintain their flood insurance, she simply wanted to wait and see just how much money the county had left after closing out its fiscal year - a process which was still ongoing at the time this meeting was held. During the meeting it was noted the fiscal year should be reconciled and closed out by the end of this month.
Commissioners reappointed Gary Payne and appointed Ruth Dunham to the ambulance authority board.
Commissioners discussed a letter from Felman Production which discussed the company’s more recent decisions to lay off 39 employees in May, followed by a decision in June to cease operations of its furnaces at its New Haven facility for three months, affecting around 200 employees. These steps were taken due to challenging market conditions for ferrosiliconmanganese, according to the company. Handley said commissioners had been in contact with John Konrady, plant manager, who said some employees have been kept on to do maintenance and upgrades to the facility. Slag processing at the plant also remains operational. Handley said the discussion was “positive” but obviously the plant is not “out of the woods yet.” Felman has said it will reevaluate market conditions in the next two months to determine if the plant will resume operations earlier or will remain closed for an additional period of time.
In addition to Handley, Epling and Doolittle, also attending the recent meeting were Gerlach and County Clerk Diana Cromley.