Davis, Chang, Snodgrass

HARRISVILLE, W.Va. — Sheriff Terry Snodgrass introduced the department’s newest hire to the Ritchie County Commission when they met Thursday, July 8.

With the resignation of Deputy J. R. Malson, the Sheriff’s Department found themselves short of a PRO (Prevention Resource Officer).

With the new school year looming, Sheriff Snodgrass asked the Commissioners for permission to hire for a 90-day temporary position.

That was granted, and he and Major B. C. Davis introduced Deputy Jason Chang.

Chang will be required to take the Civil Service Test, but is already a certified Police Officer, having gone through the State Police Academy.

He lives in Calhoun County, and has been employed by Roane County.

The new deputy comes highly recommended, and has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

Chang will need to be trained for his new role in Ritchie County’s three elementary schools.

The deputy will start July 16, with an annual salary of $40,000, and a $2,500 stipend for having a degree.

Commissioners welcomed Chang, assuring him that he was joining the best department in the state.

In other business, Sheriff Snodgrass discussed his intention to purchase a hybrid patrol car from the Parkersburg Police Department.

This will be used for the Home Confinement Officer, and funds for the purchase will come from that office’s budget.

Parkersburg PD will be charging what they paid for the patrol car.

One of the older vehicles will be transferred to the county for use by the custodians.

The Commission voted to approve $5,500 to have the new car equipped and labeled.

It was also announced by Major Davis that two bullet-proof vests have been donated to the department by the Pennsboro American Legion.

These cost over $1,000 each.

Reed Estate

Several individuals with interest in the Thomas Reed estate came before the Commission to plead their cases.

His widow reportedly thought Reed passed away without a will, until challenged by his adult children.

They claim that property has been illegally liquidated, and items either sold or discarded that should have come to them.

After some contentious discussion, Commissioner Sam Rogers asked for clarification, and discovered the real estate, part of the estate in dispute, was sold prior to Reed’s death, and would therefore not be subject to probate.

“If the property was sold before his death, none of this has any bearing for the Commission," Rogers said. "Any wills are null and void.”

It was nevertheless agreed to sign a letter of objection to the will of Thomas Reed, so that the heirs would have standing to take the matter to Circuit Court.

Recycling center update

Construction of the new Recycling Center has not yet been put out for bid, but that should come soon, according to Rogers.

The design firm, Pickering Associates, is still waiting to confirm what equipment will be needed in the facility, and what electrical service is required.

Those items are being finalized.

Rogers reported an application has been submitted for a $150,000 grant from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and both the DEP and the Solid Waste Authority have indicated their willingness to help with the project.

Sheriff’s office demolition

Commissioners discussed what will be the next steps in building a judicial annex behind the courthouse.

First up, is to demolish the old structure which once held the jail, then the Sheriff’s Department.

An advertisement for bids was placed in several papers, including the Ritchie Gazette. It is also posted on the Pickering Associates website.

A pre-bid meeting will be held July 20  at 10 a.m. at the site.

The last day for questions from prospective bidders is July 26 at noon.

All bids are due August 5 at 1:30 p.m. at which time they will be opened and read.

The winning bid will be announced on August 12 10 a.m. at the Commission meeting.

Conversations are ongoing with department heads regarding what will be needed in the new Judicial Annex in terms of office space and facilities.

In other business, the Commission did the following:

•Approved minutes dated June 10 and June 29, 2021.

•Reviewed and approved invoices totaling $347,191.63.

•Approved the monthly jail bill for $33,726.75.

Commissioner Steve Worden reminded the Commission that the legislature froze an anticipated raise in the per diem rate for prisoners.

•Approved three exonerations for $5,145.36.

•Approved budget revisions.

•Approved estate settlements for Albert Charles Pickford Jr. (aka Al Pickford) and Joseph Max Guth Jr.

•Approved signing an annual contract with Global Science and Technology for $985 a month to provide IT services for county offices.

This covers all areas but the Assessor’s office, which has its own contract with the company.

•Approved the public officials’ blanket bond with West Virginia Counties’ Risk Pool.

•Approved vacation orders.

•Brought the estimated fund balance in line for the General and Coal Severance Funds.

•Signed depository bonds for Huntington Bank and West Union Bank.

•Approved waiving the rental fee at 4-H Grounds for TLC Pregnancy Center and Shop 'n Save.

TLC is planning a fundraising dinner to be held Sept. 12, and Shop 'n Save wants to hold Fright Night in the multipurpose building on Oct. 30.

•Approved paying former Deputy James Ryan Malson for accumulated vacation, comp and holiday time.

•Approved a request to hire Jacob Brannon at the Extension Office at a rate of $13 an hour for approximately 235 hours of work, from July 12 to August 13.

•Approved a request by the Harrisville High School Alumni to use the courthouse grounds July 30  from 7-9 p.m. for music.

A county employee will need to be present to keep the building open for restroom use.

•Approved Attorney Robert Tebay as a fiduciary commissioner for Ritchie County.

Tebay performs that duty for Wood County, and was appointed by the state legislature.

•Approved continuing to pay the fee for the Heads Up mobile app, used by the Office of Emergency Management to send out alerts.

•Decided the COVID-19 rules for county property will remain unchanged, with the caution that the virus is still a problem.

The concession stands at the ballfields will remain closed, but teams are welcome to set up tables to sell snacks.

•Approved a $1,500 donation to St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Pastor Bill Dawson to help with the Sept. 11 Heroes Day celebration.

If there is a shortfall in funraising, the Commission will take the matter up again.

•Approved allowing Jessica Hodges, County Clerk’s Office, to send out “show cause” letters to representatives of delinquent and unprogressed estates.

This is a reminder to administrators that the estates need some action in order to be closed out.

•Tabled a request by the Ritchie County Historic Landmarks Commission for an additional $2,500, on top of the $2,500 received in this year’s budget.

This will be used, according to their letter, for the Cairo Bank building, as well as other projects. Worden asked that it be placed on the August agenda, to give more time to research the request.

The meeting was adjourned until Aug. 5 when bids will be opened for the demolition of the old Sheriff’s Department building behind the court house.

The next regular session of the Commission will be Aug. 12 at 9 a.m.