Preston County receives $22K reimbursement six years after hurricane

KINGWOOD — Six years after Hurricane Sandy, the Preston County Commission has been reimbursed for cleanup work.

On Monday, Commissioners Craig Jennings, Dave Price and Don Smith credited State Auditor J.B. McCluskey with helping end years of filing and re-filing reports with the State Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety and promises that the check was in the mail.

The latest report from that agency, on Aug. 1, was that everything had been sent to the auditor’s office for the check to be issued.

Not true, Jennings said. “The whole time that we were being told it was at the auditor’s office — I don’t know what they’re doing down there — to hold a check for something just amazes me,” he said.

The check was for $22,646.74.

While commissioners were at a training session last week at Flatwoods with the auditor’s office, they asked McCuskey about the check.

“[McCuskey] stood right there and got on his cell phone and called the guy and said, ‘Do you have it this minute?’ He looked on his screen to see if it said ‘payable to Preston County Commission’ on there anyplace, and it was not on there,” Price said.

County Administrator Kathy Mace then contacted Jimmy Gianato, director and homeland security adviser with the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The check came Friday.

“That finishes the large project we had as contractors,” Mace said. She also thanked Jeff Waybright of the auditor’s office.

When Sandy tore through Preston County, it blocked major roads and left thousands without electricity for weeks. The commission was authorized by the state to hire local contractors to clear the roads of storm debris.

Preston sought reimbursement for $90,586.96 and had received $67,940.22 prior to the latest check.

In June 2017, Mace was told that inspectors would begin verifying that the debris was removed from highways and placed at locations approved by the state Division of Highways. Preston County documented the cleanup with before-and-after photos.

Mace was told later the state had lost the county’s paperwork, including the photos, and Mace resent copies of the information.

Also Monday, commissioners:

  • appointed Harry Hayes, representing the financial section; Kristy Ash, representing the Preston Chamber of Commerce; and Richard Howell, representing Terra Alta, to the Preston County Economic Development Authority board. Reedsville submitted three names: Darrell Fedeles, Brian Larue and Lucas Tatham. Commissioners will name one of them to the board at their next meeting.
  • cancelled the Sept. 4 meeting.
  • heard a report on the recent e-cycling event. Mace said a total of 40,300 pounds of items were recycled at the event. Mace was given the go ahead to apply for a grant for a 2019 e-cycling grant.
  • approved issuing $300 to the North Preston Area Watch. Money was budgeted for area watches by commissioners.
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