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Special levy elections may force change in overtime policy

by Paul Darst

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- Harrison County might have to issue holiday pay to all of its employees for last month's special school levy election and future ones.

Employees who worked during the Dec. 16 election received their regular pay rate, but might be entitled to time-and-a-half, said Jim Harris, commission administrator during Monday's meeting.

"The (West Virginia state) code says that any election day is a holiday," said Harris.

County officials, however, want to know more about the law before approving such an overtime policy for the county. So would the West Virginia County Commission Association, Harris said.

"This is a legislative issue," he said. "The association is on board."

Commissioners Beth Taylor, Roger Diaz and Tom Keeley indicated they would like for the association to lobby the state to change the law.

The association's director and attorney currently are researching the law, Harris said. Both were attending a conference and could not be reached Monday.

"This can be very expensive," Harris told the commission. "Holidays cost us thousands of dollars."

Harris had no exact figures because of the number of questions the county has about the state law.

The issue arose when a member of Clarksburg City Council called Sheriff Jim Jack after being asked about the matter by city police officers, Jack said.

Jack referred the matter to the commission, which is responsible for setting such policies, he said.

Harris said that if the commission does approve such an overtime policy, it likely will deal with the recent levy election, but not past ones.

Commissioners also met with Sharon DiMaria concerning a piece of land she owns that contains a graveyard once used by the former county poor farm.

The cemetery was recently discovered by a woman researching her family tree. During the meeting, DiMaria offered the land to the commission.

"I'm willing to donate the site to the county with the understanding that it be kept up as a graveyard," DiMaria said.

The cemetery is located near the county 4-H Center along U.S. Route 19 south of Clarksburg. Because it is not next to the highway, DiMaria also offered the county a right of way so people will have access to it.

Commissioners offered to pay for the legal work involved with the property transfer. And commissioners said they want to erect a historical monument at the site to commemorate the poor farm and those who lived and died there.

In other action:

n Fred Smart, director of the Bureau of Emergency Services, addressed a possible merger with the Taylor County 911 system.

Such a proposal has been discussed for several months, and now officials are ready to meet to talk about specifics, Smart said.

Smart said 911 fees in Taylor County should remain at the current $1.50 rate if the merger takes place. The deal will not cost Harrison County any money because officials will maintain different accounts for each one.

Commissioners agreed that the next step is for officials in both counties, including prosecuting attorneys, to meet.

n Accepted a petition from the Lakeland Terrace Homeowners Association. The petition allows them to form a Community Improvement District to research construction of a sewer treatment facility for their subdivision.

The improvement district will only find ways of funding the project. If one is built, the Greater Harrison Public Service District will own and operate it.

n Agreed to reduce the number of people serving on the county Parks and Recreation Board of Directors from 11 to seven. Commissioners also ordered that letters be sent to all members asking if they want to continue on the board. The board has not met for several months, commissioners said.

Staff writer Paul Darst can be reached at 626-1404 or by e-mail at pdarst@exponent-telegram.com.

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