Commission expresses opposition to Lakin change

POINT PLEASANT — Mason County Commissioners said they’d heard no word on the proposed changes to the Lakin Correctional Center, as of Thursday’s regular commission meeting.

Commissioners Rick Handley, Tracy Doolittle and Miles Epling drafted a letter to Gov. Earl R. Tomblin expressing their opposition to the plan to convert the female prison into a facility to house a male population.

“During the initial public hearings leading up to the opening of the women’s prison at Lakin, the commission and the public were told that Lakin would ‘always be a women’s facility.’ It was disappointing to learn that these words mean nothing today,” Commissioners said in a letter to Gov. Tomblin.

“We respectfully ask you to please reconsider the state’s plan and note the amount of opposition by the local elected officials, our legislators and the citizens of Mason County,” the commissioners wrote.

In other Commission business:

Handley asked County Clerk Diana Cromley if she’d heard anything concerning the special election recently held by the Town of Henderson. Cromley said she had heard the canvas was completed but did not know if the results had been certified.

It was reported the Mason County Day Report program received a West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection REAP Litter Control Grant for $2,992.50 for Fiscal Year 2016. This funding will be used for weekly litter control projects using the county day report center and the county drug court.

The Mason County Day Report program has also been approved for a Community Corrections Grant renewal in the amount of $150,000 which finances the program’s operational costs.

Approved the full-time hire of Michelle Gibson in the WVU Extension Office as a secretary.

Approved the hire of Holly R. Davis and Karen L. Jones for part-time positions with the Mason County 911 Center.

Approved the reappointment of Mindy Kearns to the Mason County Library Board. Her new term expires July 2020.

It was reported the Public Service Commission has appointed Evelyn Fitzwater as a member of the board of directors of the Mason County Solid Waste Authority to a term expiring June 30, 2019.

Commissioners will be choosing county architects and engineering firms as required every five years. Applications are due 4 p.m., July 28 for review.

Commissioners signed off to receive a Governor’s Office of Community and Economic Development Grant for $6,000 with this money going to local fire departments. Each fire department in Mason County will receive $1,000 each.

County Administrator John Gerlach reported Stover Trucking has offered to provide a storage trailer for the county to store what it wants to keep from the existing kitchen at the 4-H camp. The county will then offer up what’s left for bid and demolition. Local 4-H leaders are raising money for a new facility which will cost around $60,000 with roughly $15,000 in funds already raised. The U.S. Army will be providing the labor to erect the new building.

The commission, as the local franchise agent for Suddenlink, was notified of an agreement Suddenlink is entering into with Altice, the latter of which is purchasing Suddenlink.

Gerlach reported the county was turned down for a Court Security Grant Fund.

In addition to Commissioners Handley, Doolittle and Epling, present at the meeting were Gerlach and Cromley.