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Preston commission looks at mine blowout, pay raises

KINGWOOD – Concerns caused by the blowout at the T&T mine last week are not over, according to Amanda Pitzer, Director of Friends of the Cheat. 

“We don’t know what’s going on in the mine,” she told commissioners. “We can’t see in there.”

Pitzer said there is a theory water is going into new crevices in the mine. She said these new crevices are not stable and could cause the area to fall which in turn would disturb the water – like dropping an ice cube in a glass of water.

“We don’t know the full impact yet,” she said. “The best way is to see the reaction of the animals, bugs, plants and fish that live in the water.” The blowout affected both Muddy Creek and Cheat River.

Pitzer said she was hopeful the incident occurred early enough that it would not interrupt the spawning of  the walleye that are moving upstream.

In other business, commissioners approved the use of the McGrew House grounds for this year’s farmer’s market.  The request was made by Bill Shockey, Preston County Extension Agent.

Shockey said the market will run from June 19-Sept. 19.  Market hours will be 9-11 a.m. Saturdays, and from 4-6 p.m. Tuesdays.

Commissioners also sent letters of “no objection” to the change of ownership for Poor Boy Salvage from Francis G. Mitter to Lowell T. and Marjorie J. Larew.

A copy of the letter was also sent to Richard Cox, outdoor advertising/salvage yard inspector for the West Virginia Department of Transportation Traffic Engineering Division.

“It’s the county commission’s understanding that the property mentioned above (Poor Boy Salvage) will continue to operate as a salvage yard, under the Larews’ ownership, complying with all state, local and federal regulations,” the letter stated.

During a three-and-a-half-hour budget workshop Monday, county officials discussed their wants and needs.  All of the officials included pay raises for employees.

Assessor Connie R. Ervin praised the job her employees are doing.

 “It is not by mistake that you are being kept afloat by the work being done through our office,” she wrote. “Through appraisal and through review of assessment and revenue for the county in the middle of a pandemic year. This is due to hard work and dedication on the part of the employees giving back to the county.”

“Your tax dollars from supplementals have increased dramatically over the last five years,” she told commissioners. “This year alone accounts for an increase from last year in revenue to the county over $123,316, with the county commission percentage estimate equal to $33,295.

She said she calculated the dollar amount of a 3% raise and a 5% raise. Ervin also asked  for a special compensatory raise for an employee who was instrumental in getting employees’ computers hooked up when they were working from home.

She asked the commission to please take the time to consider the extra revenue generated from supplemental income to compensate her staff.

Prosecuting Attorney Jay Shay requested a $3,000 annual salary increase for the Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney; a $1,200 annual salary increase for his office administrator/paralegal; a $1,000 annual salary increase for his assistant prosecuting attorney; and an $800 annual increase for two legal assistant/secretaries.

Shay noted he cut $8,000 from his proposed operating budget from the previous year’s approved budget by relying more on modern technology.

Sheriff Paul Pritt proposed a $2,000 per year per employee raise and upstarting salary entry level to $34,000.  He also requested a $2,000 per year increase for two tax deputies, and wants to increase the salary for the vacancy made by his being elected sheriff  by $1,000, to become more competitive.

Linda Huggins, Preston County Clerk, requested a $2,000 yearly raise for all of her staff, and a $3,000 pay increase for her head probate clerk.

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