POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Commission has voted to eventually move the sheriff’s department from its current location to the first floor of the old Point Pleasant Hardware building, now owned by the county.
Commissioners Rick Handley, Miles Epling and Bob Baird all voted for the move at the commission’s regular meeting on Thursday. Commissioners felt it important to go ahead and commit the first floor to the sheriff’s department though that move may not happen for some time.
Commissioners guessed the design phase of the project would take most of the summer - the building obviously needs some modification. However, the design phase took a step forward on Thursday when the commission voted to attempt to enter into a contract with Baker and Associates of Charleston. Baker and Associates was chosen out of a group of three firms, including Chapman Technical Group and WYK Associates. Each commissioner met individually with the firms and then individually ranked them with Baker and Associates receiving the highest overall score.
The building will have to be designed to meet standards contained within the Americans with Disabilities Act and the electrical system will need upgraded. In addition to housing the sheriff’s department, commissioners have talked about using space in the building to store voting machines as well as create an office area used for county employee training.
Also on Thursday, the commission voted to sign a Federal Aviation Administration Grant which, along with state money, will pay for $70,000 worth of improvements to the Mason County Airport. This will include runway lights and an electrical upgrade among other items. The county has no money in this project and the FAA provides 90 percent of funding while the state provides 10 percent. Stealth Limited of Cross Lanes received the bid for the project which received three bids in all.
County Administrator John Gerlach said the courthouse roof, which is leaking badly near the office of Circuit Clerk Bill Withers, had been looked at this week. Gerlach said the county was going to attempt to start sealing a window near this location as part of the fix.
Handley said he’d like to see the commission attempt to recondition and repair the basketball courts near Point Pleasant Intermediate School.
Handley and Baird also talked about their recent visit to Washington, DC, saying they had met with U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, Jay Rockefeller and Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito as well as Congressman Nick J. Rahall about finding money for the completion of U.S. 35. Handley and Baird reported though they felt all the legislators they spoke with understood the importance of finding money to complete the road, at this time there simply is none available or earmarked for the project. Both Handley and Baird stressed it was important to at least have a foot in the door with lawmakers to remind them of projects that are important to their constituents, particularly the completion of U.S. 35.
Handley and Baird also said they, along with 31 veterans, had breakfast with Manchin while in Washington. The veterans, ranging in age, were flown in from the Bluefield area thanks to the Honor Flight Network. The program is free to veterans and allows them to travel to see Washington and the war memorials. The Denver Foundation, based in Princeton and started by actor the late Bob Denver and his wife Dreama, started the program.