County approves carryover funds to agencies

POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Commission recently approved budget revisions which will benefit outside agencies that receive county funding.

Due to a carryover balance at the end of the fiscal year, commissioners approved funding for an additional $1,000 each to the county’s six fire departments. Also approved, an additional $500 each for park maintenance and community buildings across the county. Commissioners also allocated $5,000 to the 4-H building fund to benefit the continued construction and outfitting of the dining hall at the 4-H camp in Southside. Commissioners stressed though the dining hall is under roof, there is still much work to be done to get it completed – this includes wiring, plumbing, interior work and the purchase of kitchen equipment, etc.

All of these approved budget revisions were in addition to any money outside agencies were already allocated in the budget for the new fiscal year. Revisions were discussed at last week’s meeting of the commission, unanimously voted upon by Commissioners Tracy Doolittle, Sam Nibert and Rick Handley.

In other commission business:

Heard from resident Evelyn Stover who said she was visiting the courthouse in June. Upon entering the building, she said a person exiting had pushed the automatic door opener and when she entered, she became pinned between the doors. She said she was injured and had to go to a physician for care. She asked if the commission would pay the medical bill, saying there were two charges, one for $495 and another for $85. County Administrator John Gerlach said the insurance materials Stover submitted were sent to the county’s insurance provider and an insurance company investigation of the door found it to be in proper working order and they found the county was not liable.

Gerlach added, upon reviewing the county’s options with Prosecuting Attorney R.F. Stein, Stein advised the county cannot use public funds to pay a private bill. This means the only option for Stover was to sue the commission. Stover said she didn’t want to do that. It was noted that even if the commission wanted to pay the bill, the law prevents them.

Though Doolittle expressed sympathy for Stover, she said, ultimately, according to the existing law: “We just can’t (pay the bill).”

Commissioners were then asked about rescues for animals at the shelter. Two women identified themselves as volunteers who help transport these animals from the shelter to rescues and asked if these pickups for transports could be done on Saturdays, as many transport volunteers work during the week. Commissioners said they could and to call ahead to schedule the pickups so shelter staff know to expect them and provide staff with the rescue information.

Gerlach reported the state now requires counties to do a two-year audit contract by a private firm.

It was reported the fence at the Mason County Library was painted by inmates from Lakin Correctional Facility.

Commissioners heard a standard update on the Gallipolis Ferry Community Center. It was noted the center was rented twice a week from a church and was available for rentals for parties.

Commissioners also paid their respects during the meeting to long-time county employee, Richard G. “Dick” Thomas, age 85, of Point Pleasant, who passed away last week. Thomas worked for the county for over 35 years.

“He will be missed,” Doolittle said.

By Beth Sergent

Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.