911 PROJECT WILL GET BACK ON TRACK - Commission Reviews Grants, Minnora Center Will Sell Old Equipment

The Calhoun Commission began re-inventing a plan Monday evening to construct a small, low-cost 911 building on a free lot being donated by the Calhoun County Board of Education behind the Calhoun Middle/High School.

The commission is going back to the compliance drawing board and seeking an architect for the project. which will be followed by asking for bids again.

The process was questioned in a Parkersburg News article by reporter Curtis Johnson, who indicated the bids were illegally opened by County Clerk Richard Kirby.

Kirby admitted the error and apologized for his mistake, after discovering the bid law had changed in 2003.

"We're going to work through this and get the project back on track," said Commission President Larry McCallister.

911 Advisory Board President Jerry Riggs said "There was no wrongdoing by Richard Kirby. He has been trying really hard to get this off the ground. He has even been doing the surveying for free."

Riggs said all the bidders made a real effort to help the county, including the 911 Director, people on the advisory board and the school board. "Richard Kirby and the commissioners have gone out of their way to make it go," he said.

Getting the 911 building moving has been a process that has taken well over two years.

Riggs said he felt reporter Johnson slanted his article and gave the project a "bad rap."

County Clerk Richard Kirby was given high marks for disclosure by an undercover Freedom of Information investigation by the Associated Press about two years ago.

The state wide study showed Kirby provided information immediately, being among a few elected officials who did so.

"We are a very poor county, and it is very difficult to get things done," said Commissioner Rick Sampson. "We'll do what we can to overcome our lack of money and move ahead," he said.

Kirby had opened the bids before witnesses, made copies and distributed them to the 911 Advisory Board for review.

"The commission has been trying to get everyone involved in this," said Kirby.

After the project had been stuck for nearly two years, the commission had asked the advisory board to participate in the project, including the type of building and the site selection.

The 911 Advisory Board had been asked to recommend a contractor to the commission, although the commission was not bound to accept their recommendation.

The commission had intended to move the project forward this week.

The current 911 center does not meet basic standards and must be relocated in a fire-safe building.

Other items before the commission:

- Review of several grant projects and requests.

- Saturday's special levy election for emergency services is a go, according to clerk Richard Kirby.

- Diane Ludwig reported for the Little Kanawha Development Corporation.

- The commission offered to advertise and sell old equipment for the Minnora Center, likely at an auction, and to also submit grant applications in the center's behalf.

- The commission will canvass the Emergency Services Levy at 9 a.m. on March 12th.

- Budget meetings are scheduled for March 8th and 18th at 9 a.m.

- The commission donated the old exercise equipment at Wayne Underwood Field to the Minnora Center.

- The commission will meet March 23th at 9 a.m. to appoint poll workers for the primary election.

- The commission reviewed the Budget Control Report and made some budget revisions.