DOH denies commission’s request

By Beth Sergent -

POINT PLEASANT — A request to have the West Virginia Division of Highways property along Jackson Avenue transferred to the county commission has been denied.

The request was discussed at Thursday’s regular meeting of the Mason County Commission. Commissioners said DOH would eventually be moving from that property to a new facility north of Point Pleasant on Fair Ground Road. The commission requested the property for possible economic development use in the future. DOH did not give a reason for its denial in the letter sent to the commission on Sept. 30, though the letter did say “we are not in a position to agree at this time, to the transfer of the property.” It said DOH would keep the commission’s request on file and invited them to inquire again “once we have vacated the space.”

Steve Stewart, from Appalachian Electric Power, reported the company was going to be constructing new transmission lines through Mason and Jackson counties. He said this would help offset losses in tax revenue from the closure of the Philip Sporn Plant. Stewart said there was no news to report on what AEP will do with the Philip Sporn Plant site.

Carolyn Gibson, of Mt. Olive Road in Fraziers Bottom, spoke to commissioners regarding noise from a music festival held over the course of a few days in August near her property. Gibson, and a neighbor, told commissioners they had called the Mason County Sheriff’s Department about the noise and concert which went into the early morning hours. They said the deputies did arrive but since there was not a noise ordinance, there was nothing they could do. Commissioners asked County Administrator John Gerlach to arrange a conference call between the women and Sheriff Greg Powers to see if anything can be done in the future with existing ordinances.

Gerlach shared a letter from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources with commissioners, which states the DHHR received a complaint of possible asbestos-containing material “delaminating” near an old train steam engine on the grounds of the West Virginia State Farm Museum, which is on county property. DHHR took samples which tested positive for asbestos. Protocol dictates that some of the area must be restricted to visitors and staff and a licensed certified asbestos abatement contractor secured within two weeks to evaluate the area and come up with a plan to remove the asbestos.

On Friday, Lloyd Akers, director of the farm museum, told the Point Pleasant Register, he had already spoken to two contractors and would speak to a third next week before deciding on a bid. Akers said he anticipated the situation being taken care of in the next couple of weeks and that only the back side of the museum was restricted to visitors. Akers said it’s likely the whole locomotive will be taken out and won’t affect any upcoming events, like the Christmas light show. The farm museum will be responsible for paying for the abatement and with state budget cuts, that makes it more difficult but as Akers explained, it’s something that needed taken care of and would be.

Akers, commissioners and County Clerk Diana Cromley wanted the public to know the farm museum’s office and kitchen were not affected and were also open. The farm museum is used as a polling location during elections.

Gerlach checked on rehabbing a tree at the Mason County Library with a quote of $1,145. Commissioners were going to look into other options to care for it and no action was taken.

Gerlach reported the county would be applying for a power rebate from AEP after the county replaced old courthouse light fixtures with new energy efficient fixtures. The fixtures were paid for with a court house facilities grant.

Ed Cromley, president of the Point Pleasant Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, thanked commissioners for their wreath at the Battle Days Memorial ceremony. Commission President Tracy Doolittle praised the ceremony.

At the meeting were commissioners Doolittle, Miles Epling as well as Gerlach and Diana Cromley.

By Beth Sergent

Reach Beth Sergent at or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.

Reach Beth Sergent at or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.