KEYSER, W.Va. — During Tuesday’s public meeting, Mineral County commissioners provided president Cindy Pyles the authorization to sign an application for a $7,000 community participation grant to go toward equipment for the Frankfort District Food Pantry.
The grant caused some contention on the “Eye On Keyser” Facebook site, where one resident accused an elected official of sitting on the grant until after the election.
“This seemed to be one of the issues on social media — that the county commission was holding back this grant — and we were in no such way doing so,” said Pyles. “This made me very angry.”
Mike Bland, county coordinator, was trying to figure out who he needed to contact to get the paperwork in order for the grant, said Pyles.
When the county receives an application for a grant, it is not provided with contact information nor informed of who made the request, according to Bland.
“We have suggested to (the local delegation) a few times how they could streamline the process and basically have the application for them completed,” he said.
In July, a fire broke out in Fort Ashby and destroyed 4,000 cans of food at the pantry, as well as some equipment.
Following the fire, there was a request from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office for $7,000, which included $3,000 for food and $4,000 for equipment, according to Bland. The food pantry reopened in September.
“The one issue that remains is that we got the application (but) the food was an ineligible activity,” said Bland. “It’s still $7,000, but it looks like it needs to be all equipment.”
Bland indicated he spoke with both the Governor’s Office and Delegate Ruth Rowan about changing that aspect of the grant, but it couldn’t be done.
Now that the grant application has been signed by Pyles, it will go back to the Governor’s Office, where it will remain until Tomblin approves it, he said.
“Then the Development Office will send us a contract. It then becomes a reimbursement grant,” said Bland.
In other meeting action, Lauren Ellifritz, county clerk, said that it may take awhile to complete the canvass for the general election because poll workers need to examine 265 provisional ballots.
“We have a list of the people we addressed that day. There were a couple hiccups,” said Ellifritz. “We apologized to the voters that had issues but I thought it went well.”
“I think the election went as smooth as can be expected with a temporary issue with the machine,” said Ellifritz. “We had some minor issues on Election Day. We had 1,000 voters turn out and unfortunately there were a handful of voters that had issues.”
Republican Jerry Whisner upset Pyles with 59 percent of the vote, according to complete, but unofficial, results. Jeremy Taylor, also a Republican, beat out Sheriff Craig Fraley by a narrower margin with 53 percent of the vote.
In other news, the commission will receive a $68,600 grant from the Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority for a gutter and cornice project for the courthouse.
The work on the gutters will likely start in the next month, according to Bland.
Pyles, who is a member of the authority, announced that the county will no longer have a seat at the table at the authority and instead it will go to Ohio County.
The commission also approved the following:
• A community participation grant agreement for $3,000 for the Fort Ashby Volunteer Fire Department.
• An application for an emergency management planning grant.
Contact Elaine Blaisdell at email@example.com.