(06/20/2001)
By Bob Weaver

"Nothing new has happened to pull Wirt County out of financial distress," said Wirt Commission President Lention Offutt. The county is facing imminent problems meeting its obligations, particularly with the opening of the North Central Regional Jail in Doddridge County.

Steve Canterbury, Director of the Regional Jail Authority, said the new facility will be accepting prisoners on August 1. A dedication ceremony is scheduled for July 24.

Wirt County will immediately loose a source of income, the housing of prisoners in its local jail, and begin paying daily fees to the regional jail system. Offutt says the situation will place Wirt in financial collapse. "We may have 60 days before the impact is felt," he said.

Offutt and Wirt's other Commissioners have been exploring avenues to help keep the county afloat. There may be some short term assistance from the legislature's Budget Digest, which will be announced next week.

Wirt's Commissioners have sent a letter to the Wirt County Economic Development Authority opposing their selling a section of the original poor farm known as the pallet plant. Commissioner Robert Lowe said the flat land needs to be retained by the county for possible development.

Lowe said a proposal has been made to turn the Palestine Fish Hatchery into a state park. A meeting to explore the matter was canceled yesterday.


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