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Commission discusses plans to help those effected by the closing of Allegheny Wood Products

KINGWOOD — Approximately 125-150 Prestonians have lost their jobs with the Feb. 23 closing of Allegheny Wood Products.

During this week’s Preston County Commission meeting, Roberta Baylor, executive director of the Preston County Economic Development Authority (PCEDA), gave commissioners the numbers.

Baylor said the sawmill in Kingwood employed 70-100 individuals, and the dry kiln in Bruceton Mills employed about 50 workers.

Baylor said a WorkForce West Virginia’s Rapid Response Team will hold a meeting at the 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. She said the sessions will give Allegheny Wood employees access to resources such as career planning, job placement, filing an unemployment claim, training opportunities and more.

Baylor said these sessions are provided by the Workforce WV Rapid Response Team and supported by the Preston County Economic Development Authority and the Preston County Chamber of Commerce.

In other county business, LaDeane Teets, director of the Farmland Protection Program (PCFP), said five new farms are in the works to be added to the program this year.

“We are hoping to fund them all,” she said. “The program currently consists of 1,108 acres. This would add 672 more acres.”

Teets asked the commission for $500 to help cover the cost of a dinner to be held at the signing.

No action was taken.

Commissioners did approve a request made by Jim Savage, president of Preston County Vietnam Veterans Post 977, to use the court house lawn to hold an event for National Vietnam War Observance Day. The event is scheduled to be held March 29. More information will be forthcoming.

Commissioners also approved the formation of a nine-member advisory group to provide suggestions on how opioid settlement funds should be spent. Commissioner Hunter Thomas said he believed the board should be made up of representatives from the Preston County Health Department, Mon Health Preston Memorial Hospital, Community Corrections, the sheriff’s office, the Department of Health and Human Resources, the Board of Education and the public.

The formation of a second board was also discussed. This one, the Preston County Property Safety Board, is being formed to deal with the dilapidated and abandoned buildings problem in the county.

A meeting to discuss the board has been set for 9 a.m. March 14. Preston County had a similar board, the Cleanup Committee, several years back. That board put together an ordinance that would cover dilapidated and abandoned buildings around the county.

Commission President Don Smith said the ordinance put together by that board now needs to be tweaked to be more in align with the West Virginia State Code. Once that is done, he said it will be helpful in obtaining funding for the project.

Thomas said he would like individuals who have dilapidated buildings to come to the board rather than having the litter officer go to them. He said one possibility could be if someone wants a building taken down they could pay half and commission pay half with ARPA funds.

No additional action was taken.

The next meeting of the Preston County Commission will be 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.