Government, Latest News

Hawkins to serve as president of Monongalia County Commission in 2020

MORGANTOWN — The Monongalia County Commission took time to reflect on 2019 and look forward to the year ahead as it held its first meeting of 2020 on Thursday.

As its first order of business, Commissioners Tom Bloom and Sean Sikora tapped Commissioner Ed Hawkins to lead the body as its president for the next 12 months.

The commission has customarily given the role of president to commissioners seeking reelection.

Hawkins was elected in 2014 and will seek a second six-year term in November.

“It’s an honor and privilege for me to serve as this commission’s president for this upcoming year,” Hawkins said, touting the working relationship of the body. “After spending five years with Commissioner Bloom and three years with Commissioner Sikora, I can honestly state to the public … that this is a commission. It’s not three commissioners. It’s three commissioners working as one body.”

Once down to business, the commission announced some long-awaited news.

“I’m quite excited to read this. It’s been 3.5 years in the making,” Bloom said before reading a correspondence from county attorney Phil Magro indicating unpaid occupancy (hotel/motel) taxes on the former Ramada Inn, on Scott Avenue, had been paid.

Sheriff Perry Palmer filed suit against the Ramada Inn in April of 2017. The suit claimed the business was $121,000 in arrears and named D&M Investments Inc., Alan B. Mollohan, Robert Holt Mollohan and Kathryn Nelson as the defendants.

According to Magro, a check was received on Dec. 26 for the final $67,138.54.

The hotel occupancy tax is up to 6 percent of the cost of a hotel room, which is divided between the taxing body — the county in this case — and its local convention and visitor’s bureau.

In other news, the commission:

  • Heard a request for funding from The 17 Club, which provides meeting space for groups, committees and organizations carrying the message of 12-step recovery programs. It was explained that the nonprofit’s lease is up on its Brookstone Plaza location in April, but it’s having trouble meeting the $1,800 monthly needed to cover rent and costs.
    “We’re trying to hold on for the next four months,” Patrick Lester said, noting that the county courts and other agencies often refer people to 12-step programs.
  • Announced a public hearing for a proposed 43% increase in sewer rates in the town of Blacksville to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 14. The hearing will be before the Blacksville Town Council. The Monongalia County Commission has no standing in the matter.