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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Clifton Hired by the County


Pocahontas Hires New Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

October 18, 2007
By Cathy Grimes, Staff Writer
Pocahontas County commissioners approved the request Tuesday of Prosecuting Attorney Walt Weiford to hire J. L. Clifton as a part-time assistant prosecuting attorney.

Clifton, a graduate of the University of West Virginia College of Law, will receive a salary of $27,000 a year and full benefits, effective after he is sworn in by the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Clifton will be replacing Tony Tatano who recently resigned.

Commissioners also approved the Pocahontas County Public Service District’s request for $5,000 to replace the roof on the old water treatment plant in Frank by a 2-1 vote.

Commissioner Martin Saffer, who dissented, said he had concerns that the loan would set a precedent if the PSD took over the Snowshoe treatment plant with its existing problems.

Commission President James Carpenter was adamant when he stated, “No way will the County Commission bail out the Pocahontas County PSD.” He added, “If it will help them out, if it will delay a rate increase, I’m in favor.”

“There hasn’t been a rate increase in a long time,” Commissioner Reta Griffith said.

The commission discussed the effective date for the increase of the hotel/motel tax. Commissioners agreed that rooms, which were actually paid for before the increase went into effect Sept. 1 would be charged the 3 percent tax, anything after that date — reserved but not actually paid for — would be charged the 6 percent rate.

Sheriff Robert Alkire asked the commissioners to approve the hiring of Dorsey Owen Swisher as a full-time law-enforcement deputy.

According to Alkire, Swisher is currently employed at Huttonsville Correctional Center as a guard.

Until he graduates from the State Police Academy, Swisher’s duties as a deputy would be limited.

Swisher’s current residency in Randolph County generated a lengthy discussion and the commissioners agreed he should be a resident of Pocahontas County before he is hired, but Alkire insisted Swisher was looking for housing in Pocahontas County and it was imperative that the hiring be approved as soon as possible so he would be able to attend the January class at the police academy.

The commissioners had reservations about hiring Swisher, voicing concerns, that after paying for the academy and other expenses, including uniforms, which Alkire told the commissioners had already been ordered, he might decide not to move.

Alkire was unwavering in his effort to get the approval of the commissioners and they eventually agreed, providing Swisher signed a letter agreeing that he would become a resident of Pocahontas County before the end of his one-year probation, that the police vehicle would remain in the jurisdiction of Pocahontas County and that he would not be on the clock until he reached the vehicle which would be housed in Pocahontas County.

The effective hiring date of Oct. 16 was contingent upon Swisher signing the letter.

Commissioners told Alkire that the Sheriff’s Department policy needed to be amended to say applicants must reside in the county.

Saffer discussed the issue of 42 West Virginia counties subject to eminent domain by the federal government for transmission lines.

“Pocahontas County has a unique environment and high voltage transmission lines would have a huge impact on tourism, and the health of the community and offer no benefits,” Saffer said.

According to Saffer, the path of the lines would skip Pocahontas County, but he indicated the importance of getting on the record early with a letter to the West Virginia Public Service Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opposing the transmission lines in the state and that the commission be notified in the event the county was being considered.

“Without research I can’t say no,” Griffith said, “I’m not comfortable.”

“I’m not opposed before I know,” Carpenter said.

“I have great concerns with the adverse impact on the county,” Saffer said. “I want to be informed of all hearings.”

On the verge of becoming a heated discussion, Griffith asked Saffer if his reasons for opposing the transmission lines was eminent domain, and added, “Because my opinion may be different, I’m always wrong, and I’m tired of this.”

Saffer again indicated it was a very critical condition.

The issue was put on the agenda for more discussion at the next meeting.

In other matters:

— The commission adopted a proclamation declaring Oct. 30 as Weatherization Day. The U.S. Department of Energy developed the Weatherization Assistance Program in 1976 to help low-income families with issues of home energy needs.

— Accepted the bid for number two heating oil from Beckley Oil, doing business as Pocahontas Fuel, for courthouse offices, emergency management/911 offices and jail, from Nov. 1, 2007 through Oct. 31, 2008.

— Approved a motion to accept the terms of a $10,000 grant for the Wellness Center, with money to be used for engineering and architectural work.

— Discussed the disposal of county property, mainly two desks. The small antique desk will stay in the commission room; the larger desk will be sold.

— Approved a motion to write a letter responding to audit findings.

— Discussed the Hazard Mitigation Plan update, and approved a motion to enter into an agreement with J.H. Consulting for the plan at a cost of $4,500.

— Discussed the Community Corrections Program and appointed an exploratory committee consisting of Magistrate Doshia Webb, Martin Saffer, Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin White, Prosecuting Attorney Walt Weiford and Sheriff Robert Alkire to look into improving existing programs.

The Commission meets the first and third Tuesday at 8:30am in the Pocahontas County Courthouse.

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A local archivist who specializes in all things Pocahontas County