A FEW TOP 2019 CALHOUN NEWS STORIES

(01/01/2021)
2019 went by without a single murder, a few near misses, and few fatal vehicle accidents (one UTV death), very few fires, except those to be arson.

1. APPALACHIAN REGIONAL COMMISSION $240,000 GRANT RECALLED, DARK SKIES DREAM FADES - After years of dedicated volunteerism to launch the Calhoun Park Dark Skies project, Gov. Jim Justice issued a cardboard check in the amount of $240,000 to the Calhoun Commission, with about $60,000 donated locally. It finally looked like it was happening.

The check was recalled, reportedly related to the Trump administration focusing on restoring the coal industry.

Worse yet, the county had to come up with about $30,000 of planning and development funds to a hired developer, based on the assumption that the project was a go.

2. FRONTIER DISCONTINUES LAND LINE PHONE BOOK - For the first time in history, the phone company did not publish a directory with residential phone numbers, which will become a big problem in rural counties that still rely on landline service, little improvement over the past 20 plus years without increasing cell service.

Frontier is on the brink of bankruptcy, their stock is close to being delisted on the stock exchange, it is under the $1 per share most of the time and they have not paid any dividends to shareholders since December 2017.

The Office of Emergency Services should be girding their loins on what to do if Frontier goes bankrupt.

3. $4.1 MILLION WATER IMPROVEMENT PROJECT SET FOR 2020 - A $4.1 million Grantsville water system federally funded improvement project that has been in the planning stages and is expected to be let for bids in the Spring of 2020.

The purpose of the water project is to make necessary improvements to the 700 gallon per minute Grantsville water treatment plant to secure future uninterrupted delivery of potable water to Calhoun County customers.

4. MINNIE HAMILTON $1.3 IMPROVEMENTS, INCREASED SERVICES - Using federally awarded funds received for capital improvements (1 million dollars), MHHS has spent approximately $1.3 million to improve access to the facility and repair/replace aging components in 2019.

MHHS has grown quite a bit in 2019 by adding additional services, providing expanded services that are much needed by the community. The Annex building will serve to accommodate them and provide easier access to patients. Planned services to be placed within the Annex include: Physical therapy, orthopedic care, nephrology, and behavioral health.

5. TRANSCANADA COMPRESSOR BECOMES OPERATIONAL - The White Oak Compressor Station was put on-line March, 2019, a long developed project that is located near the Calhoun-Ritchie line, the taxes will give a boost to Calhoun's tax coffers.

6. BROADBAND PROMISES, BROADBAND DREAMS - After 25 years of efforts, meetings, initiatives, consortiums, press releases and promises, most rural WV counties are still without real broadband and the "high speed" service from Frontier continues to falter.

Regionally, the dedicated efforts of the Clay, Calhoun and Roane Consortium have little visible progress, although they have worked very hard.

While the announcements would fill a few books, rural areas are yet to join 21st Century technology, vital to education, healthcare and business development.

7. CALHOUN FACING $600,000 OVERDUE JAIL BILL - Cash strapped Calhoun for many years managed to keep up with its regional jail bill. Currently owing almost $600,000, the county commissioners have been trying to pay $10,000 a month, or whenever the Commission feels they have enough money ahead to make payroll.

Tax income from the compressor station will likely be applied toward the jail bill, the taxes will go in effect in July, 2020.

8. CALHOUN SCHOOLS REDUCES DEFICIT - Calhoun Superintendent of Schools Kelli Whytsell says the long-time $1.8 million deficit has been reduced to approximately $737,891 for the school year ending 2019. Whytsell said many sacrifices have been made to get there.

Whytsell says the county will be expecting a total of $738,187 in additional funds as a result of HB 206. This is a combination of additional funds for low enrollment counties and the additional funding in the bill.

Unfortunately, county schools will see little gain from taxes received from the Transcanada compressor station, since those funds will mostly be taken back by the state school funding formula.

Whytsell said she was grateful for the academic success of Calhoun students, Calhoun outperformed similar counties on the General Summative Assessment.

9. CALHOUN SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT INCREASES RESPONSES - The Calhoun Sheriffs Department continued to increase responses and interventions within the county with record numbers.

10. HELPING - Perhaps the best news is that Calhoun people continue to help their neighbors in need.