Wood commission signs agreement on JAG grant

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners signed off Monday on a memorandum of understanding between the city of Parkersburg and Wood County for Justice Assistance Grant Program funding through the state.

“Because of the proximity the Justice Bureau asks the city of Parkersburg and Wood County governments to submit a memorandum of understanding regarding the grants,” Parkersburg Development Director Rickie Yeager told commissioners.

The city agrees to provide the county with $20,713 from the JAG award for the Wood County Sheriff’s Department and the city will receive $41,557 for the Parkersburg Police Department.

Yeager said the funds include equipment for the police departments.

“The county’s funds are to be used in part to purchase Tasers for the sheriff’s department deputies,” Yeager said.

“This agreement will now be sent on to the bureau for approval,” Yeager said; the funds would be available in October.

No funding match is required for the grants.

The JAG Program, administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, provides funding to support a range of program areas including law enforcement, prosecution, indigent defense, courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, planning, evaluation, technology improvement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.

In another matter, commissioners Steve Gainer and Blair Couch said a meeting on a proposed nature trail at Veterans Memorial Park would be postponed until next week because commission President Wayne Dunn, who is the commission liaison to the park board, was not present for Monday’s commission meeting.

Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Shawn Graham said he has not seen the new trail plans. Dunn said earlier the proposed trail route was altered after the sheriff expressed concern over its proximity to the Deputy Sheriff Association’s gun range.

“I walked it initially and it was completely unacceptable; then I was told to attend a meeting at the airport about the trail, but it was apparently canceled and I wasn’t notified. There were indications there might be concerns with the new trail, and if there are any concerns, we need to discuss it further. The building at the gun range belongs to the Deputy Sheriff’s Association not the sheriff’s department, and the association should be in on any discussions. I think a trail out there of any kind is a bad idea, especially in light of the continuing Sundowner case,” Graham said, referring to a pending lawsuit filed by the Sundowner Gun Range owner after the county commission ordered the range closed.

The commission ordered the range closed after receiving ongoing complaints from neighbors who said they found bullets on their property which they contended came from the southside range.

“If it is agreed to bring in an unbiased third party to work with the Sundowner to be safe, maybe we could get that same help with Mountwood Park, which has the only public gun range in Wood County, and they could also work with the airport and sheriff’s association,” Couch said.

Also Monday, Steve Parker, with the Gathering at Sweet Creek, asked the commission to consider advancing the music festival, which is scheduled for Aug. 29, funds which would then be reimbursed once the festival receives the Governor’s Community Participation Grants which have been applied for through the state.

County Administrator Marty Seufer said the organization has applied for two $5,000 grants. The county acts as the pass through entity for the grants. County officials said the grant funds would be used to pay expenses from the 2013 event. The county received the requests for payment in June.

Parker said the three-day event in Mineral Wells was attended by about 2,000 people last year.

“It’s just coming up and I’m getting a little nervous; we are running a little shorter on funding this year and I’d like to have an advance on the funds. We did this two years ago also,” Parker told commissioners.

County officials said there were outstanding invoices needed for one of the grants, and it was unclear whether a second grant would be awarded.

“The governor’s office cut some of that funding,” Seufer noted.

“How about if we made any advance contingent on the receipt of the invoices for the other grant and reconsider your request next week; we can table it until then,” Couch said.

The Gathering at Sweet Creek is an oldtime Appalachian music festival, featuring musicians from West Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia and Australia.