Commission Moves On Step Replacement
At the Wetzel County Commission meeting held Feb. 22 Matthew Brake and Dana Indermuhle from Swiss Valley Associates met with the commission to update them on the side steps replacement project of the old jail steps at the courthouse. The two indicated the drawings were nearly finished and the bid process could begin at any time.
The commission was pleased with the news and requested that the work be done by Wetzel County contractors if at all possible and that the project be completed by the end of April to allow other pending projects for the courthouse to begin. Swiss Valley will bid out the estimated $20,000 project in mid- to late-March.
In another matter Brett Starr of Stone Energy met with the commission to see if the they would entertain the idea of an oil and gas lease with the company. Stone Energy is specifically inquiring about roughly 114 total acres owned by the county in and around the area where Wetzel County Hospital sits. Starr explained there would not be any surface drilling, only that the company would like to add two lateral wells in the proposed area.
The commission stated they were interested in seeing a proposal from Stone Energy on the prospect of leasing and indicated they would seek the counsel of Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught to address procedural concerns. The commission will get back with Starr after their meeting with Haught.
During the meeting commissioner Scott Lemley addressed the issue of road and traffic concerns in the Jacksonburg area of the county. Lemley explained he and his fellow commissioners receive concerned calls daily regarding the safety of the citizens and the conditions of the roadways due to oil and gas trucks. Notably, while the commission has very little control in such matters, they continue to speak to oil and gas companies as able to help spread awareness to those occupying and deteriorating the roads. Starr acknowledged the issues and stated that Stone Energy makes a serious, conscious effort to drive safely and courteously as well as repair any and all damages caused by their trucks, and even repair damages caused by other negligent companies.
Also present to propose a business partnership with the commission were John Fisher and Phyllis White from the state treasurer’s office. The two appeared to present the West Virginia Retirement Plus plan, a 457 retirement plan designed for state public employees. Fisher explained the plan is much like a 401K plan with many options available to customers. As the largest 457 plan available, the West Virginia Retirement Plus program’s focus is to offer quality investment options and security to its customers.
Fisher explained that many young people aren’t saving for retirement and because people are (fortunately) living longer, any money saved has to last longer. Benefits to the program include financial education services and federal tax credits for certain income brackets, among many others. Fisher also stated that because the program is so much larger than many other competitors, the fees for the West Virginia Retirement Plus plan are much lower. Furthermore, there isn’t a minimum requirement for employee enrollment for the county to sign on to the plan.
Another big advantage to the program is that customers can roll any existing qualified retirement plan such as an IRA, 401K, or another 457 plan into the new plan with no charges or hassles. Also, the minimum monthly payment is just $10.
The commission stated they would look into the program materials provided and speak with other elected officials about organizing an informational meeting with the program representatives.