BUCKHANNON — On behalf of the non-profit organization Appalachian Impact, Justin Bowers spoke to Upshur County Commissioners Thursday morning to inquire about the group potentially making use of the recently vacant Hampton Community Building, as a common place for the organization to meet. As partners with Upshur County Schools, local churches, and surrounding counties, Appalachian Impact focuses on at risk students in the community and within the region. The non-profit was introduced to Buckhannon approximately 9 years ago, according to Bowers.
Appalachian Impact reaches youth through three main avenues, he noted. They facilitate a partnership with Upshur Schools through one-on-one mentoring within the schools. They also host summer community camps similar to that of Energy Express, as well as create long-term relationships with students that they reference as cohorts. These programs are geared for youth in grades K-12.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit Appalachian Impact very hard, according to Bowers. Mentors were not allowed into schools last year and the camps halted a few years prior due to lack of funding. With that being said, “We are trying to revitalize Appalachian Impact,” Bowers expressed, and with the recent vacancy of this building, he saw an opportunity. Bowers noted the organization would utilize the space to hold programs, activities, and simply use as needed for meetings and gatherings. Throughout the entirety of the program in Upshur County, Bowers explained they have struggled to find a permanent space for the youth to gather, which he said has posed as a “huge challenge.”
Commissioner Sam Nolte expressed that he is very familiar with the program and noted it is “wonderful.” However, Commissioners have received additional interest from another group since they began accepting letters of interest, following the ownership of the space once again, in early October. Therefore, they are waiting to hear from that organization as a prospective renter of the space as well, to determine the best fit for the space. Commissioners noted they will maintain contact with Bowers regarding any decisions made about the Hampton Community Building.
Commissioners also entered executive session Thursday to further discuss correspondence from Kimbra Wachob, Upshur County Emergency Communications Center Assistant Director, requesting the employment of the following individuals as full-time telecommunicators. Wachob requested the employment of Ethan Knight and Heather Wray. Following a brief executive session, Commissioners approved Wachob’s request, granting Knight and Wray employment as full-time telecommunicators. Knight began employment on November 1, and Wray begins November 8.
Items regarding public information included correspondence from Samantha L. Woods, Deputy State Auditor for the WV State Auditor Chief Inspector Division, enclosing the audit report of the Upshur County Commission for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020. This report is available for public review in the Upshur County Commission Office. Also, the Upshur County Safe Structures and Sites Enforcement Board made correspondence with the Upshur County Commission regarding a Petition for Order filed October 22, 2021, pertaining to Case Number 011421-01 (Washington Tax District – Tax Map 7K – Parcel Number 55.3). It was reported that the property owner has 20 days to request a hearing before the Upshur County Commission.
In other business of the Upshur County Commission, they additionally approved the following agenda items: Consider Fiduciary Commissioner Daya Masada Wright’s recommendation to amend the appraisement for the Estate of Mary A. Given; Correspondence from Dean Craft, Regional Manager for Shield Roofing & Construction LLC, requesting a change order to extend the completion deadline of the former jail facility roof replacement project from November 1, 2021 to November 30, 2021; Review and signature of the State of West Virginia Emergency Management Division Performance Grant Award. The sub-grant period is January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019 and is in the amount of $38,000; Approval and signature of WV Records Management and Preservation Board Resolution, Certification Form with priority ranking, and Grant Applications for Fiscal Year 2020-2021. The Upshur County Clerk requested $9,795.45 with a 10% cash match by the Upshur County Commission for all grant funds expended. The total project cost is $10,775. The grant will allow for preservation and maintenance of county records for public and county use; and Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility Volunteers Heather Ogden, Garrett Davis, Hali Westcott, Charity Warder, Victoria Sisson, Chrystal “Chrissy” Batten, and Ripley Cottrell.
The next meeting for the Upshur County Commission will take place November 4, 2021 at 9 a.m. at the Upshur County Courthouse Annex. The Commission meeting scheduled for November 11, 2021 has been cancelled, as the Courthouse will be closed in observance of Veterans Day.