Commission adopts new guidelines for absentee voters

NEW CUMBERLAND — With the May 8 primary election just three months away, Hancock County officials have established new guidelines regarding absentee voting.

During last week’s meeting, the Hancock County Commission approved the Emergency Absentee Voting Policy for the primary, to which the policy was submitted through the office of county clerk George Foley.

According to the policy, per West Virginia Code, residents who qualify for absentee voting must qualify under one of the two following conditions:

* the resident must be in a hospital or another duly-licensed health care facility within a county adjacent to Hancock County, or within 35 miles of the county seat for medical treatment.

* the resident must be in a nursing home within the county and would be unable to vote in person that day.

Also related to that matter, commissioners approved the appointments of Republican Party member JoEllen Kessel and Democratic Party member Stephanie Wuebbles to serve as Emergency Absentee Ballot Commissioners for the May 8 primary.

In other matters:

–The commission approved a letter of support from the Lee Day Report Center (LDRC) to apply for the Fiscal Year 2019 Community Corrections Grant, along with the Community Criminal Justice Board membership agreement.

Submitted by Fred P. McDonald, executive director of the LDRC, the letter sent to the commissioners was to let them know that the LRDC is preparing for the grant to be submitted to the W.Va. Community Corrections Subcommittee for funding to allow the LRDC to continue providing services for another year. The letter stated that the loss of the funding would result in “a viable and effective alternative sentencing program no longer being available to the courts.”

Commissioner Joe Barnabei had initially motioned to make it as a matter of record, but after Commissioner Jeff Davis informed the commission that a vote would be needed to participate in the community agreement, Barnabei amended his motion to present a letter of support.

— The commission approved the appointment of Mark Henne as a Technical Advisory Committee representative to the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Planning Commission (BHJ). Henne’s appointment was tabled at the commission’s Jan. 25 meeting to clarify Henne’s residency. Upon further review, commissioners found that Henne, who has also previously served on the BHJ’s executive committee and finance committee while also serving as secretary, vice-chairman and chairman, is a Brooke County resident, but Barnabei also stated the BHJ involves three counties, and that the county commissioners learned that they would be able to approve the appointment on their end.

— Also approved by the commission was the advertisement of a contractor to build a vestibule for the front entrance of the Hancock County Animal Shelter on Gas Valley Road. In correspondence submitted by Office of Technology and Communications executive director Bob Vidas, the vestibule would help keep rain and snow out of the shelter’s lobby and give people visiting the shelter and area of clean their feet before entering. Vidas said it would also aide in regulating the heat in winter and serve as a sheltered space to examine animals before being brought into the shelter. Vidas said the contractor posting has appeared on the county’s website, but so far only one contractor has submitted a quote.

— The commission also approved the general county bills, which amounted to $28,556.76, and P-Card payments of $46,515.06.

The next commission meeting will be 2:30 p.m. Feb. 15 at the commission meeting room at the Hancock County Courthouse.