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Hancock County to conduct redistricting analysis

The Hancock County Commission met Wednesday morning, approving a redistricting analysis for the county by Atlas Geographic Data Inc. at a cost of $5,000. The redistricting follows the results of the U.S. Census and action by the state Legislature. (Photo by Craig Howell)

NEW CUMBERLAND — The Hancock County Commission will begin an analysis for the redistricting and mapping of the county following the results of the 2020 Census and resulting action by the state Legislature earlier this year.

The commission, meeting Wednesday morning, approved a proposal from Atlas Geographic Data Inc. to perform the analysis and mapping at a cost of $5,000.

Barb Ross, the county’s head elections clerk, was on hand to explain the project.

“With the 2020 Census, there was a redistricting for the entire state,” Ross said, noting each county also is tasked with modifying precincts and magisterial districts.

Ross said she knows changes will be made, although until the analysis is complete, she is uncertain as to the extent.

“Until we see the GIS, I have no idea what changes need made,” Ross said.

Ross noted, as an example, changes to the districts for the House of Delegates. According to information on the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, House District 1 will include much of Hancock County, as well as a portion of northern Brooke County, dividing the city of Weirton.

House District 2 will include the remainder of Weirton and some unincorporated areas of Brooke County, while District 3 will have Follansbee, Wellsburg and the rest of Brooke County as well as a portion of northern Ohio County.

The work from Atlas will include an analysis of current voting precinct boundaries, county voting registration rolls and county addressing data, as well as district boundaries for the state Senate and House of Delegates and U.S. Census data.

As part of the proposal from Atlas, a first draft will be submitted to the county by Dec. 6, with final versions completed by Jan. 14.

Commissioner Eron Chek asked whether the county would receive reimbursement for the study, with Ross explaining she has heard of a verbal agreement from Gov. Jim Justice to do so, but has not received anything official.

In other business, the commission accepted letters of resignation from Naomi “Willie” Balt and Mary Thorn from the Hancock County Parks and Recreation Board. Commissioners offered their thanks to both for their service on the board.

At the recommendation of Commissioner Jeff Davis, the commission tabled the advertisement to fill the open positions, with Davis saying he would like to speak with the other members of the board over concerns he has.

Other business before the Hancock County Commission Wednesday included:

¯ Approval of a contract with the West Virginia Division of Administrative Services, Justice and Community Services for the 2021-22 Victims of Crimes Act grant program

¯ Setting a hearing for 1 p.m., Jan. 27 for the removal of an executor from the Marleen Mallicone Lorello estate

¯ Approved a letter of support for the application of funds through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program for the Weirton Frontier Crossing project

¯ Agreed to advertise for a community-at-large position of the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, with a term expiring January 2024.

¯ Approved the retirement of Leah Loar-Mays as full-time dispatcher, effective Dec. 1, and to pay remaining accrued vacation time

¯ Agreed to advertise for a community-at-large representative on the CHANGE, Inc. board.

¯ Approved the final disposition of the 2020 Sheriff’s Delinquent Land Sale

¯ Agreed to advertise for a deputy clerk position in the county Assessor’s Office.

¯ Approved the reimbursement of $198.52 to Commissioner Paul Cowey for travel expenses. Cowey recused himself and stepped out of the room during the vote.

The commission will next meet at 9:30 a.m., Dec. 8.

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