Confusion over the responsibility of public service districts to residents who live outside their boundaries became so great the Harrison County Commission voted Tuesday to add a position to the Harrison County Planning Commission to deal with the issue.
Although the position has yet to be completely defined, county commissioners suggested the employee would work with public service districts and encourage them to increase their customer base outside of current boundaries.
Certain residents, such as those in the county's northeast quadrant -- east of Shinnston and west of Bridgeport -- haven't been able to be absorbed by their surrounding public service districts. Terry Schulte, executive director of the Harrison County Planning Commission, said a form of consolidation or merger of public service districts could be a possible solution. Schulte reported some public service districts have denied requests by unserved residents to become part of their service district.
But the public service districts' "primary function is to grow and serve districts," said James Harris, commission administrator.
Greg Robertson of the Lakeland Terrace and Lakeland Park area outside of Bridgeport spoke to the board about sewage services to his home. His home is part of the Greater Harrison Public Service District, but he reported the city of Bridgeport would not allow Greater Harrison to connect sewer lines from his home to the city's. Instead, he and his neighbors have had to foot the bill, he said.
Commissioners agreed to set up a meeting with Bridgeport city officials.
The commission also considered alternate uses for the county jail after the expected June 2001 completion of the North Central Regional Jail in Doddridge County forces its closure as a county detainment center.
Steve Canterbury, director of the state Regional Jail Authority, discussed the possibility of switching the county jail to a federal or juvenile detainment center.
No decisions or proposals were made regarding the jail, but commissioners agreed to another meeting with Canterbury after he had toured the current jail to assess its facilities.
The county's three commissioners also followed the recommendation of architect William Yoke of WYK Associates and accepted a $348,987 bid for the courthouse renovation project. Marks Construction of East View won the contract with the lowest of three bids.
Yoke said the construction company is hoping to begin work next week on the renovation, which was prompted by the creation of a third circuit court judge position by the 1999 state Legislature.
The commission also recognized the achievements of Brushy Fork residents Bob and Becky Titchenal and their fruit preserve business by proclaiming Aug. 1, 2000, as West Virginia Fruit and Berry Day in Harrison County. In addition, the Titchenal's Mountain Blackberry Preserve was named the official preserve of Harrison County at Tuesday's meeting.
Staff writer Franny White can be reached at 626-1443.