My past experience as a county commissioner tells me that cutting back on Thursday meeting days is a mistake both politically and practically. If they run out of items on their agenda and become bored, here are a few things I recommend that commissioners put on their to-do list:
* Get out of their chairs and walk around the courthouse. Inspect the building from top to bottom and determine if maintenance is needed. In doing so they will meet all the wonderful employees, find out what they do, and become familiar with how the county works. I bet none of the commissioners have been on top of the bell tower and observed the grand old bell. By the way, the bell yoke is broken and needs repaired.
* As they tour the courthouse, special attention should be given to the records room and the records therein. Several of the older original deed book bindings are very fragile. Jamie Six and his staff have done a great job in maintaining the books, however it appears a good deal of money needs to be spent on bindings and scanning of the older books. Perhaps a fireproofing of the records room should be considered. A fire would be disastrous.
* How about walking across the street or traveling to Vienna and Williamstown to visit with the mayors to discuss their problems and how the county could be helpful in cooperating with them.
* Consider making trips to both Charleston and Washington. Let our state and national leaders know where Wood County is located. Let's create a good working relationship with all.
* Review all utilities - gas, water, electric usage as well as fuel consumption. Records on each vehicle should be maintained. Fuel is the biggest budget item. All vehicles belong to the commission.
* Every year review the insurance coverage and costs.
* Review the county's investments with the sheriff and be assured they are getting the best return and are being backed by sound securities.
* All agencies that are funded by the county must submit audited statements. All agencies should be made accountable.
* Review the county's personnel manual and make updates as needed.
* Make a list of major employers in the county. Make scheduled calls on them to discuss their needs and plans. Offer any assistance in plans to expand. Take the assessor or Cam Huffman with you.
* Discuss ways Wood County can aid other counties in their production of coal, gas and oil - we do receive a portion of the severance tax. Perhaps the county should sponsor information sessions on oil and gas leasing because of the drilling boom in West Virginia.
* Any unscheduled time can be used for writing letters and returning phone calls or other communication with the citizens of Wood County.
I believe the commissioners' challenge for the coming year is to use their leadership, time, talents and the county's treasury to promote economic development in Wood County. We have a wonderful and talented workforce, a top educational system and a safe place to live. Now it is the commissioners' job to see the message gets out.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Bob Tebay is a former Wood County commissioner.