Wharton clears animal control contract

PARKERSBURG – County commission members are being asked to move forward with a truck purchase contract with the Humane Society of Parkersburg.

Wood County Prosecutor Jason Wharton gave commission members a brief update Thursday, recommending the contract be brought before the commission Monday for discussion and possible approval.

Earlier this week officials met with representatives of the humane society to discuss the purchase of a truck. The two groups recently agreed to a new two-year contract at the current funding level of $271,344 for the humane society to continue providing animal control services, and the county agreed to purchase a new truck for the agency.

The terms of the truck purchasing agreement came into question, specifically whether the truck would be returned to the county if the humane association’s two-year contract is broken.

The commission approved a modified contract that divided the $27,000 purchase price of the vehicle into 24 equal amounts, representing each month of the agreement. If the humane society terminates the agreement, it would owe the county whatever is left on the cost of the truck. If the county terminates the agreement before it is up, the humane society would keep the truck.

Wharton said he received an email Wednesday from the humane society’s attorney asking for a simple change to the contract. Wharton said while it clarified some of the language, he did not feel it changed any of the content of the agreement.

“I don’t see any real change in accepting this modification,” Wharton said. “It doesn’t change what we’re doing.”

Wharton said since the request came from the humane society’s attorney, he felt confidant the contract as presented was acceptable to both parties.

“It looks promising,” he said.

Another item delayed until Monday’s meeting was an appointment to the Mid-Ohio Valley Board of Health.

Officials said the term of Greg Smith, former spokesman for Camden Clark Medical Center, is expiring, but both his name and the name of Dave McClure, who was promoted in July to executive vice president-chief operating officer at the medical center, were put forward for the seat. The commissioners were asked to choose and approve one of the two names.

The health board “indicated they wanted someone from the hospital,” said commission President Wayne Dunn. Smith no longer works at the hospital.

Commissioner Steve Gainer said he would feel more comfortable with the move “if everyone involved was aware of what is going on.”

Commissioner Blair Couch was absent Thursday but attended the first part of the meeting by phone. Couch could not be immediately reached by the commissioners to see if he had spoken with Smith about the change prior to Thursday. Since commission members did not know if Smith had been informed, they agreed to wait on the vote until Monday.

Officials said Couch would be present at Monday’s meeting.