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COUNTY COMMISSION NEWS: Substance Abuse Recovery High School To Open in County

The February 13 meeting of the Putnam County Commission featured announcements which included the projected opening of Bridge To Hope Academy in Nitro, updates on county water projects, and excess levies which will appear on the May Primary ballot for voter approval.

Bridge To Hope Academy is a micro school that will serve 9th to 12th grade students who are in recovery from substance abuse disorder. The school is the first recovery high school in West Virginia. Tina Ramirez told the commissioners that Bridge To Hope will provide peer support to students in recovery, give families support through counseling and services, and help students graduate. Ramirez said, “We have been working to look at the overdoses throughout West Virginia and have identified about 1,500 kids under 18 years that have overdosed.”

The school will be located in a building owned by Community Bridge of St. Albans. Initial plans call for 3 to 5 students who will follow home school curriculum guidelines. There are approximately one hundred recovery high schools scattered throughout the United States. Ramirez said that West Virginia students have, in the past, attended recovery high schools in other states and then been re-enrolled in the same schools where they were introduced to dangerous drugs.

Ramirez asked the commission to consider supporting Bridge To Hope. Commissioner Andy Skidmore directed County Attorney Larry Frye to review guidelines which have been issued for using opioid settlement funds which the county has received.

Fire Service Administrator Rich Pullen presented the commission with copies of the order for a Special Levy for the Fire Service to be placed on the Primary Election ballot. Pullen said that, unlike the levy which was voted on in 2022, this levy would not include EMS funding. “It’s a lot simpler and a lot more straight forward,” Pullen said. The commission unanimously approved including the levy on the May ballot.

County Clerk Brian Wood announced that the ballot will also include the excess levy for Putnam County Schools. Wood said that Nitro voters will see a city excess levy on their ballots.

Terry Martin informed the commission that the Regional Intergovernmental Council has filed application for waterline extension on Bowles Ridge under the Critical Needs Application Process for a grant of $471,000. Martin said a decision is expected in March. The project is separate from the Jim Ridge Project but will be tied in to Jim Ridge and will be bid out separately if necessary.

Martin advised the commission that all necessary funding is in place for the Mud Lick Extension of the Jim Ridge Project. Martin said that action will be necessary by the State legislature before funding can be obtained for Deerfield Estates. The present funding limit is $2 million and the project is expected to exceed that amount.

Jim Nagy, engineer for the Jim Ridge Project, said he will present a contract for approval at the next commission meeting for Custer Ridge. The contract will be in the amount of $40,000 for administration. Nagy informed the commission that the Bowles Ridge section of the Jim Ridge Project will begin February 19 with a first focus upon cleanup.

In other business, the commission denied a 120-day extension to Rodel Properties to cleanup property on Margret Drive in Nitro. The commission did approve a 60-day extension.

The commission approved the appointment of Jamie Totten to the Putnam County Animal Shelter Board; the re-appointment of Steven Perry and James Dodrill to the Planning Commission; and the re-appointment of Dr. Jeff Given and Richard Holtzapfel to the Putnam County Civil Service Board.

In public comment for things not included in the meeting agenda, Jason Miller of Dunbar addressed the commission concerning a lawsuit brought by Dave Hobba against Karen Thaxton, Jimmy Thaxton, and Once Upon A Farm. Miller stated that Hobba was a public official as a member of the Planning Commission, and that his action could cast an unfavorable light upon both the Planning Commission and the Putnam County Commission. Miller asked the commission to investigate the matter.

The next Putnam County Commission meeting will be Tuesday, February 27th, at 5:00 p.m.

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