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Best Buds: Wood County officials look to tap into medical marijuana industry

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Commission is thinking about a local lab to test medical marijuana samples.

Commission President Blair Couch was among local officials who toured a lab at Hocking College in Nelsonville.

Local officials are interested in trying to set up a local lab to regularly test plants when West Virginia’s medical marijuana industry is up and going.

“We are trying to see how much it costs,” Couch said of space and equipment as a number of labs have additional equipment as backup.

A lab facility is available at the Day Report Center that was used in drug testing. Couch said a bigger facility would be able to do the kind of testing required.

Officials with the lab, which is independent and non-profit, were the ones looking into the possibility of establishing a local lab.

“It would be a way to roll money back into the community,” Couch said.

Couch said 10 approved growers will be named soon in West Virginia and there will be requirements to perform tests and more on the plants being grown, checking for various things including purity, other quality indicators, mold, heavy metals, other impurities and more. However, only one lab in the state is set up to handle the testing.

The lab they visited charges $800 a sample and averages 20 samples a week from a single grower.

Additional expenses would cover security needs of a site.

Officials are looking at potential sites in the area, including one outside of Vienna.

In other business:

* A public hearing will be held Monday, Sept. 28, at 6 p.m. at Bicentennial Park to discuss the proposed rate increase for the Lubeck Public Service District. The Lubeck PSD is seeking a 7.25 percent increase for water and a 11.5 percent increase for sewer.

Officials were able to reduce the proposed increase from what they were initially asking for.

The additional funds are needed to meet state requirements, build reserves for repair and maintenance and address the final debt service on a 1996 bond issue, as well as to support general operations.

The commission, which has oversight of the rates of the Lubeck and Claywood Park PSDs due to a 2015 change in state law, is considering the rate increase. Commissioners wanted to hear from the public on the proposed rate increase.

* Commissioner Robert Tebay has been named to the National Association of Counties’ Agriculture and Rural Affairs Policy Steering Committee.

In a letter to Tebay from Gary W. Moore, president of the NACo, he said their work is looked at by the U.S. Congress and other federal agencies in determining policy decisions.

Tebay will be participating in monthly conference calls and attend conferences in Washington D.C. and Texas.

“It is an honor to be named and to represent the state,” Tebay said.

* The commission will be applying for a Courthouse Facilities Improvement Grant from the state to secure the bell in the belltower in the courthouse. Officials said experts have looked at it and feel the housing for the bell needs to be replaced.

County Administrator Marty Seufer said the bell and the surrounding equipment weighs around 1,500-1,600 pounds. It has been shored up and is secure right now, but the work needs to be done.

The county is looking at prices and designs. They are looking at applying for the grant in anticipation of moving quickly to get it done.

“This is something that needs to be done, Seufer said.

Brett Dunlap can be reached at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com.

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