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County Commission Enters into $700,000 Design Agreement

The Putnam County Commission met on Thursday, April 29, to consider six agenda items of note. The biggest dollar item by far was a $700,000 agreement for the design of a 5-G Fiberoptic Broadband Network.

The commission entered into an agreement with S&S Engineers to design the system. The agreement awards $700,000 (based upon a project total of $10 million) to S&S for seven phases — $15,000 for Study and Report, $235,000 for Preliminary Design Phase, $200,000 for Final Design Phase, $25,000 for Negotiating Phase, $100,000 for Construction Phase, $25,000 for Post Construction Phase, and $100,000 for Additional Services. When complete, 5-G Broadband service will be widely available in the county.

The commission also approved a bid of $146,940 by Benchmark Construction of Hurricane to make an emergency repairs to a failing culvert near Lake Chadesa. Wiseman Construction of Charleston submitted a lower bid ($146,046) but the commission opted to go with Benchmark because it is a Putnam County business. The commission was not obligated to go with the lowest bid because an emergency condition exists. The commission did not consider an email submitted by Benchmark after the bidding deadline of a revised lower cost estimate. Commissioner Foster recused himself from the proceedings because of business dealings with one of the companies that submitted bids.

In an item held over from its April 20th meeting, the commission voted to purchase the property located at 6321 Poca River Road South with grant money provided through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. Adjacent property in the area had been purchased with FEMA funds. Future use of the land is restricted to recreational use. Commissioners Andy Skidmore and Brian Ellis went on record stating that they would not support future purchases of such property. The total acreage of all Poca River Road South purchases is approximately seven acres.

The commission did not act upon a request by Timothy Spradling to have his property at 1006 and 1012 Mt. Vernon Road, Hurricane, rezoned from R-1 to C-1. Spradling withdrew his request after commission attorney Larry Frye informed the commission that he had discovered errors in the property description which could serve as a basis to challenge any decision. Frye stated that recording errors were, in part, the fault of the county. The commission voted to waive Spradling’s filing fee to resubmit his request.

Commission heard but did not act upon a request by the WVU extension service to restore funds cut from the 2021-2022 budget. The commission decreased its budget from $72,000 to $25,000 for the agricultural agent. Commissioner Foster stated that the extension service should seek more funding from the school board. “The county only receives 20% of tax revenue while the school board gets 80%,” Foster said. Foster indicated that he is not opposed to supporting the Putnam County Fair and 4-H programs but he wants regular updates on the services that the extension service is providing.

The commission approved the transfer of EMS service from the county to the City of Hurricane and the Teays Valley Fire Departments for calls in their respective districts. The change is slated to become effective on August 1st.

The next Putnam County Commission meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 11th.

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