POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Commission recent had its regular meeting, introducing the new assistant administrator and heard updates on the Mason County Homeless Shelter’s work.
The commission meeting started with introducing Jason Bechtle as the new assistant administrator for the county. A motion to hire Bechtle was made at the Aug. 30 meeting.
After Bechtle’s introduction, John Machir, director of the Mason County Homeless Shelter, gave an update on the work being done by the shelter, as well as some of the difficulties the shelter has come across.
Machir said at the time of the meeting, the shelter only had one male bed open.
The shelter is currently working on a new street outreach project to help more people. Machir said that while the shelter is full, there are currently 30-40 people currently on the streets that he is aware of, something that surprised the commission.
“I can take you to 20 tents right now,” said Corey Miller, Mason County Sheriff.
Machir and Miller said many of those currently on the streets are not from Mason County.
Machir said he has been able to establish some COVID-19 funding that will help secure security cameras, paint and flooring that will be easier to keep clean.
All across the country, shelters have been having trouble with residents and getting them into housing, according to Machir. Some of this is due to poor policy on state and federal levels, Machir said. He said the shelter currently has a 50% placement rate.
The shelter has moved to sleeping pods for more security for visitors.
While the new shelter project has been indefinitely postponed, he said there is hope to one day continue the project. The shelter hopes to establish an annual fund that would allow people to donate to the shelter straight from their paychecks. The benefit of this is it would “release some of the red tape” that comes with grants and other funding, Machir said.
Currently the shelter receives $106,000 from the state, $5,000 each year from the City of Point Pleasant, $50 a month from a few churches and a few random donations come throughout the year.
The shelter is currently short two employees and accepting applications, Machir said.
In other commission business:
The Mason County Animal Shelter has confirmed a rescue to Maryland, with eight dogs leaving the facility. Sam Nibert, commission president said he recently visited the shelter and was happy with how well the shelter is doing. Animals are currently being cared for morning and afternoon. The shelter is still not open to the public. Applications for the shelter positions were due Sept. 11 and the commission hopes to have the positions filled by the beginning of October.
Commissioner Tracy Doolittle was reappointed as trustee for Workforce Development Board Mid-Ohio Valley.
Commissioner Rick Handley said the Tri-River Transit is up 60-65% from last year. They are currently seeking applications for a driver, starts at $13 an hour and non CDL license is required, Handley said.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer with Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (740) 444-4303 ext 2555.