Floodplain enforcement discussed

Beth Sergent - [email protected]

POINT PLEASANT — Enforcing new floodplain regulations as required by the federal government are not going well in Mason County.

At the Mason County Commission meeting on Thursday, Chuck Blake and Matt Gregg who help the county enforce those regulations spoke to Commissioners Rick Handley, Miles Epling and Tracy Doolittle about how things are going.

Blake said the county is still not being “effective” though personnel have been following a plan to enforce these regulations. Blake and Gregg told stories about going to homes which were in violation of the ordinance to speak to homeowners who wouldn’t come to the door. Or speaking to property owners who have taken no action to correct the problem.

The problem is, the federal government changed the existing floodplain and now some land which was out of the floodplain is now in it. If the county doesn’t enforce the federal guidelines, its runs the risk of losing federal funding.

Blake suggested getting the prosecuting attorney’s office involved when all other avenues in the floodplain management enforcement plan have been exhausted with property owners. Once the situation is in the hands of the prosecuting attorney’s office, it’s possible the sheriff’s department could become involved and act as process servers once a summons is issued for property owners in violation of the ordinance.

Blake said it would be helpful to have this support as it is an unsafe situation sending Gregg to certain homes when he doesn’t have a uniform to identify him.

Blake said the county needed to show the Federal Emergency Management Agency it was at least doing what it could to enforce the law.

“I agree we need to show FEMA we are trying to comply,” Handley said.

Of course there are always exceptions but Gregg said in many cases getting into compliance with the floodplain ordinance is “paperwork” and not a lot of work is involved.

Blake also reported Mason County Office of Emergency Services recently received a few grants to assist with the use of satellite technology in the amount of $37,000 and $16,000 for new cameras for the 911 complex. Both grants were obtained by RC Faulk, deputy director Mason County OES

Blake also reported the 911 building was recently struck by lighting for the third time. The insurance company paid out a claim for around $8,000 Blake said.

Also, commissioners supported a petition from residents to ask Suddenlink to extend high-speed internet service in the area of W.Va. 2 at Jericho Rd. to Rollinstown.

County Administrator John Gerlach reported he is applying for a courthouse facilities grant to replace over 300 T12 lighting fixtures in the building.

A work party will take place this weekend at the 4H Camp in Southside to clean out the dining hall. Stover trucking is providing the trailer for storage and Mason County Solid Waste Authority is supplying the ramp to help load the trailer.

Gerlach reported Sheriff Greg Powers would like to initiate a Reserve Deputies Force for his department. They would be unpaid deputies with no arrest powers though they could assist in traffic and crowd control situations, such as at events like the Mason County Fair. Gerlach said in the last half of August, the department had $18,000 of additional overtime.

Gerlach said the county’s insurance covers the reserve deputies force at no additional cost. However, he said the county does have some liability risk with the reserve deputies because they would be representing the county in various situations. Gerlach said Powers wanted to start the reserves with two deputies.

Commission meetings were set for: 10 a.m., Oct. 8, 4 p.m., Oct. 22, Nov. 5, Nov. 19, Dec. 3, Dec. 17.

Commissioners also wrote Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin an official letter of thanks for his part in keeping the Lakin Correctional Center a facility for female inmates.

In addition to Handley, Doolittle, Epling and Gerlach, also at the meeting were County Clerk Diana Cromley and Brian Aluise, representative from Tomblin’s office.

Beth Sergent

[email protected]

Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.

Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.