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Harrison commission OKs raises for county employees

by Jennifer Biller

STAFF WRITER

Money was on the agenda at Tuesday's Harrison County Commission meeting as commissioners approved a 3 percent pay raise for county employees and discussed the possibility of purchasing two motorcycles for the sheriff's department.

Commissioners designated a portion of the county fund budget to pay for the pay raise pool for each of the county's departments. The raises would be retroactive to July 1, said President Roger Diaz.

"The (department heads) will have the leeway to award the raises to their staff based on performance," Diaz said.

Previously the county has given raises of 4 and 5 percent, but commissioners agreed to 3 percent due to the anticipated costs of courthouse renovations.

The fund balance is money carried over from the county budget from the previous year, Diaz said. This year's balance is $1,070,957, according to James Harris, commission administrator.

The commission has not yet granted five outstanding requests from agencies asking for monies from the fund.

Those requests are for $25,000 for the Harrison-Clarksburg Health Department to assist with moving expenses; $100,000 for the Shinnston Park and Pool project; $5,000 for improvements to the East View Community Center; $148,000 to the Public Safety Complex in Nutter Fort to pay off long-term debt; and $27,800 for the Bi-County Nutrition program, Harris said.

In other business, Sgt. Ed Martin asked the commission for financial support to establish a county motorcycle squad.

"We are asking for their help with a four-year pilot program that would give us two fully-equipped Harley-Davidson motorcycles for the sheriff's office," Martin said.

The department favors Harley-Davidsons because they retain their value for resale, Martin said.

The expense for the motorcycles would be $19,000 each, he said. The cost for training the staff would also be included as part of the pilot program, he added.

Motorcycles would make officers more mobile and give them better access to accident scenes in heavy traffic, Martin said. Officers could also use the cycles to patrol the county rail trails, he said.

Police chiefs from Bridgeport and Clarksburg have also expressed interest in the program, and a motorcycle squad could tie in with the county's effort to establish a metro police force, Martin said.

Police departments in Wheeling, Morgantown, Charleston and Huntington have motorcycle squads, Martin said.

The commission agreed to consider the proposal.

In other business:

- Mayor Roy Smith was awarded a proclamation for his service to the town of West Milford.

- Planning Commission Director Terry Schulte presented a written report on the complaints of Salem and Lumberport citizens in regard to property damage sustained during sewer projects.

- The county wants to hire an assistant director for the planning commission.

The next commission meeting is scheduled for Sept. 19 at 10 a.m.

Staff writer Jennifer Biller can be reached at 626-1449 or jbiller@exponent-telegram.com.

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