Putnam County To Gauge Interest on Satellite Voting

By: Scott Saxton Email
By: Scott Saxton Email

WINFIELD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A new law in West Virginia will allow counties to establish early voting locations in various areas, presumably bringing the right to vote closer to you than ever. However, Putnam County is on a listening tour at the moment to see if that's the right option for citizens there.

"I'm willing if you're interested in looking at that," Putnam County Clerk Brian Wood told commissioners at their weekly meeting Tuesday.

Wood says one hurdle would be to find enough regular locations in which the satellite voting could be held each election. Commissioner Stephen Andes recommended Wood contact local municipalities like Hurricane and Buffalo to gauge interest on the project.

Wood says he would like to see the cities in Putnam County align their elections along with the county elections so they can both save money, but "(I) don't want to step on any toes."

No Response on Indian Burial Concerns
Also Tuesday, Commissioner Joe Haynes noted the county has yet to hear back from the state of West Virginia Division of Culture & History about unearthed remains from Indians.

The remains were unearthed in the 1960s in Putnam County, were eventually sent to Ohio State and returned to the Division of Culture and History last year.

Putnam County Commissioners want to bury the remains back in the county, but the state won't return the bones. Last month, commissioners sent a request to the governor's office, along with a petition from a few hundred citizens in the Buffalo area.

Haynes reported the governor's office forwarded the letter to Culture & History so that department could respond to Putnam County. Haynes said the county has yet to hear.

Officials with the state told a local newspaper last month they were working on identifying the tribal affiliation of the remains.

Water Project Coming in Under Budget
Commissioners received positive news on the Bee Ridge water line extension project, which is extending water service to nearly 150 people in the county.

Terry Martin with the Regional Intergovernmental Council says the county may have up to $200,000 left over when the project is complete.

"It hasn't run into any kind of problems whatsoever," Terry Martin said.

Commissioners will have to decide how to spend that money, but County Manager Brian Donat pointed out the project extends in three different directions.

911 Tower Project
Commissioners voted to accept the low bid of $20,712 from Hughes Supply of Hurricane for the 911 Communications Tower Project, pending a review of the proposal by the 911 center.

Sheriff's Department: New Car, Uniforms and New Deputies
Putnam County Sheriff Mark Smith reported that his department will use grant money to purchase and equip a new vehicle for the department.

Smith also noted the county has hired two new deputies, with law enforcement experience and academy training.

The officers joined the department from jobs with the Nitro Police and the Nicholas County Sheriff's Department. Smith noted since both have gone through the academy, that will save the county about $1500 a piece.

"We've now become poacher instead of poachee," Sheriff Smith told Commissioners, noting that they've been able to recruit officers with experience.

Smith also informed the commission that the department will be forced to get new uniforms soon to comply with a state mandate from the Sheriff's Bureau.

The bureau has not imposed a deadline, but is requiring deputies to have standard uniforms, much like state troopers, Smith says. The office supply stores that outfit the sheriff's department has stopped carrying the old style uniforms in anticipation of the switch over.

The move to a standard uniform for all should cost Putnam County about $27,000, according to Smith. The sheriff points out these new uniforms need to be dry cleaned, with that responsibility coming out of the pockets of the deputies. Smith says the mandate will be particularly difficult on bigger departments, like neighboring Kanawha County.

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