Government, Latest News, Monongalia County

Sikora elected president as Mon Commission welcomes new member

MORGANTOWN — A new year. A new commissioner. A new commission president.

Monongalia County Commissioner Jeff Arnett sat for his first meeting on Wednesday.

His first order of business, nominating Sean Sikora to lead the commission as its president for the next 12 months.

This is the first stint as president for Sikora, who is starting his fifth year representing the county’s Central District (Morgantown).

Sikora thanked his fellow commissioners for the support, but admitted it’s not something he’s been looking forward to.

“It doesn’t make any one of us more powerful than the other. It just gives me more responsibility to preside over the meeting and means more signatures that I have to provide for Carye [Blaney],” Sikora said. “Other than that, we’re three equal commissioners. We like to work together and we like to make decisions as a group.”

As for business, much of Wednesday’s meeting was focused around public comments.

Lou Scotchel was once again on hand in reference to the estate of his uncle, Arthur P. Scotchel, who died in March of 2009.

In the nearly 12 years since his death, a number of administrators and fiduciary commissioners have been appointed and replaced, a litany of misconduct allegations and hearings came and went, the family was divided and the estate was whittled away with attorney’s fees.

Scotchel came to ask the commission to put aside its vote from last week accepting the fourth and final accounting of former estate administrator Keith Pappas. He said based on previous court rulings, Pappas had no standing to make such a filing.

Former West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Larry Starcher, the current administrator, was also on hand. Starcher, who at one point  ended up filing suit against Pappas, said the county’s estate process is broken and the Scotchel estate is the prime example.

“It makes me sick and there isn’t anything else I can do. It’s still going to fall on your shoulders,” Starcher told the commission. “I’ll tell anybody who wants to talk about it how you are helping screw, in this case, beneficiaries.”

Scotchel said he will take the issue back into circuit court, even if history would show the court is likely to kick it back to the commission.

“Of course,” he said. “I’m out over $200,000. Why on earth would I stop now?”

The commission also heard from Mon Health CEO David Goldberg, who said the hospital has 28 COVID-19 patients out of 164 beds.

“We have capacity,” he said, noting Mon Health is working closely with WVU Medicine and state leadership to help navigate the ongoing pandemic.

Goldberg, who offered Morgantown City Council a similar update on Tuesday, said the hospital took about a $20 million hit due to lost revenue and expenses tied to COVID-19, but has since rebounded.

Lastly, Goldberg asked everyone to continue to mind CDC guidelines regarding masks and social distancing. He also said COVID-19 is no excuse to otherwise ignore your health.

“Use telemedicine if you don’t want to come in, but don’t put off your care and get sicker. Be responsive and own it and your medical professionals across the country and across our county are here to take care of you,” he said.