Governor’s grant causes county concerns

Bob Tipton, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Grant program, speaks to the Wood County Commission Monday morning. (Photo by Michael Erb)

PARKERSBURG — A proposed state grant to increase highway safety led to a debate among officials Monday about who would be paid for administrative costs.

Bob Tipton, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Grant program, spoke to the Wood County Commission Monday morning concerning an enforcement grant for Wood County, Williamstown and Vienna.

The $45,900 grant would be used to reimburse agencies for overtime spent on enforcement programs like DUI and seat belt checkpoints.

But county officials became frustrated over how much of the grant would be for administrative costs and how much an administrator would be paid.

“None of this is being made clear,” said Commissioner Jimmy Colombo. “You think it’s funny. I don’t think it’s funny.”

Tipton said the grant itself covers no administrative costs, but the program already pays a deputy with the Wood County Sheriff’s Department as a contractor for other jobs, such as state training sessions. When he retires at the end of this year, he will take over as grant administrator for the northern-half of the state, Tipton said.

“That dollar amount (listed for the grant) is strictly for enforcement,” Tipton said. “We in no way want to incur any expenses for the county.”

Even so, the county would be used as a passthrough, with the grant administrator submitting time sheets to the county to then be sent on to the state, officials said.

“We need a better understanding of the situation,” said Commission President Blair Couch.

The commission called for an executive session to discuss “a related matter” with Tipton, Prosecutor Pat Lefebure and Sheriff Steve Stephens. The executive session lasted about 10 minutes.

Commissioners approved the grant when they returned to open session.