Government, Latest News, Preston County

Preston Commission discusses masks, gets update on Terra Alta bridge

KINGWOOD — The Preston County Commission discussed requesting people entering county buildings wear a mask because of the increase in the Delta variant of COVID-19, but took no action at its Tuesday meeting.

Kathy Mace, county administrator, said she had received calls from the public about the county’s mask policy. She spoke with the Preston County Health Department, which suggested following the most recent mask guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends everyone in areas of substantial or higher infection rates, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask inside.

She informed the commission there are more than 40 cases in the county, including breakthrough cases — meaning vaccinated individuals who caught COVID — and Delta variant cases. The CDC infection map lists Preston County as substantial and the state Department of Health and Human Resources map lists it as orange.

With a lack of a mandate from the state, and with Gov. Jim Justice telling counties to regulate themselves, Mace asked that signs be posted on the doors of county buildings requesting people wear a mask. She made it clear it would only be a request, not a mandate.

Commissioner Dave Price said he didn’t like the word “requesting.” 

“The governor is not mandating and state health department is not asking for this or requesting anything,” Price said.

He suggested waiting to see what happens and the commission moved on to other business.

Mace told commissioners an Aug. 10 meeting about the CSX bridge on Bridge Street in Terra Alta included the public, CSX, Terra Alta and the Division of Highways. She said it went well and there was discussion about the feasibility of a temporary structure to allow light traffic to pass. There was also plenty of discussion about a permanent fix. 

Commissioner Samantha Stone said the bridge has been closed for years and is a “huge hindrance” to the town of Terra Alta. The bridge is the only way to cross to the other side of town when a train is passing through.

In other business:

The commission voted 3-0 to allow Commission President Don Smith to sign a letter of retention with the law firm Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe PLLC to provide professional services. 

Approved two requests by Riffle Farms to host a dinner series and bison roast.

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