County commission receives good news on projects

Terry L. May (Mingo Messenger) Feb 14, 2022






After getting started an hour late, the Mingo County Commission conducted a three-and-a-half hour meeting last week as the governing body worked its way through an agenda laden with a litany of discussion items.

Leasha Johnson, executive director of the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority (MCRA), was the first to address the commission.

“I have some good news for you today,” she told the commissioners.


That good news came in the form of updates on the Twin Branch Motorsports Complex and American Electric Power’s middle-mile broadband project.

“The DEP (the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection) and the DOH (W.Va. Department of Highways) have agreed on the release of the access road to Twin Branch,” Johnson said. “This project is a significant benefit to Mingo and Logan counties. We are almost across the finish line.”

She said the project will bolster the economics of the region though job creation and tourism development.

The AEP broadband project is also another project that will benefit both Mingo and Logan counties. The project is a pilot program. If deemed successful, AEP will expand in the program to other areas of the state. In the middle-mile project, the company is stringing multi-strand fiber optic cable throughout its service region in the two counties. AEP only needs a certain amount of those fibers for its corporate use. By partnering with a broadband service provider — in this case GigaBeam Networks — another portion of the fibers can be used to provide non-served and underserved areas with high-speed internet services.

“Construction has started on the AEP broadband project. The company had wanted to begin sooner but there were supply chain issues that delayed the start of the project,” Johnson said. “They are starting in Logan County first and extending outward toward Mingo County. There will be 400 miles of new fiber cable strung across the area.”

Johnson also told the commission because this will be an ongoing project residents will not have to wait until the project is completely finished. Service will be offered in each area as the cable is hung.

Michelle Akers, director of the Southwestern Regional Jail Day Report, spoke to the commission about the variety of services her organization provides including the administration of the Mingo County Drug Court. The Day Report provides seven jobs to Mingo County residents. It offered approximately 2,000 community service hours last year — which she said is a low number because of COVID — and has provided more than 4,000 drug screenings to the county.

“It is time for our annual grant renewal. We get $475,000 in state funds which requires a 30 percent match divided between the four counties we serve,” Akers said. “Your portion of that is $50,892 which can be paid in four installments.”

Akers also told the commission the Day Report leases office space in the Memorial Building/Courthouse Annex to house the Drug Court at a cost of $18,000 per year which gives the county back a significant portion (approximately 35 percent) of the required match.

“The Circuit Court depends on the services offered by the Day Report,” Mingo County Circuit Judge Mika Thompson told the commission. “Day Report and Drug Court saves us a lot of jail time and the cost of housing prisoners. And the cost of the drug screens they do alone would more than pay for the match.

The commissioners voted with out opposition to continue its partnership with the Day Report.

In other business, the commission:

• Approved a request to transfer non-strategic (non-structural) flood properties to the MCRA to be sold;


• Heard updates from J.B. Heflin of the Mingo County Public Service District about the Chattaroy sewer system along with the Ben Creek and Beech Creek water projects;

• Discussed the temporary COVID-19 policy with a representative of the Mingo County Circuit Clerk’s Office; and

• Conducted bid openings for the electronics recycling project and the repairs to the Memorial Building’s parapet wall and roof. Only one bid for each of those projects was received — Tri-State E-Scrap and Start to Finish • Construction respectively. Final actions will be presented to the commission following review of the bids.

“It is time for our annual grant renewal. We get $475,000 in state funds which requires a 30 percent match divided between the four counties we serve,” Akers said. “Your portion of that is $50,892 which can be paid in four installments.”

Akers also told the commission the Day Report leases office space in the Memorial Building/Courthouse Annex to house the Drug Court at a cost of $18,000 per year which gives the county back a significant portion (approximately 35 percent) of the required match.

“The Circuit Court depends on the services offered by the Day Report,” Mingo County Circuit Judge Mika Thompson told the commission. “Day Report and Drug Court saves us a lot of jail time and the cost of housing prisoners. And the cost of the drug screens they do alone would more than pay for the match.

The commissioners voted with out opposition to continue its partnership with the Day Report.

In other business, the commission:

• Approved a request to transfer non-strategic (non-structural) flood properties to the MCRA to be sold;

• Heard updates from J.B. Heflin of the Mingo County Public Service District about the Chattaroy sewer system along with the Ben Creek and Beech Creek water projects;

• Discussed the temporary COVID-19 policy with a representative of the Mingo County Circuit Clerk’s Office; and

• Conducted bid openings for the electronics recycling project and the repairs to the Memorial Building’s parapet wall and roof. Only one bid for each of those projects was received — Tri-State E-Scrap and Start to Finish • Construction respectively. Final actions will be presented to the commission following review of the bids

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