By Jean A. Flanagan
The Hardy County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau uses Hardy County’s natural beauty, historic appreciation and outdoor recreational opportunities to bring visitors to the area and they in turn spend money which supports the local economy.
Michele Moure-Reeves, executive director of the Hardy County CVB presented the annual report to the Hardy County Commission at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
Through advertising, travel literature and their website, the CVB has promoted the uniqueness of Hardy County and the Potomac Highlands as a whole. “Visitors don’t recognize county lines,” she said.
The dollars collected through the hotel/motel tax, as well as grant funding from the state, are combined to advertise Hardy County in print, on the Internet and through social media. Last year the CVB advertised in eight publications with Internet components and five additional Internet and social media outlets. Under the tag line “Experience the Hardy Effect!,” the messages targeted fishermen, history buffs, fresh food connoisseurs, and outdoor adventurers. [private]
“Hardy County was the subject of six feature articles with an emphasis on our recreational assets,” Moure-Reeves said. “Several of those focused on trout fishing.”
While it is difficult to determine how many people visited Hardy County as tourists, Moure-Reeves said the Lost River State Park saw an 11 percent increase in cabin rentals last year.
The CVB in partnership with Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College, the West Virginia University Extension Service and the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, offered a course in Agri-Tourism. The course provided practical information for local entrepreneurs who are combining the county’s agricultural heritage with tourism experiences.
The CVB also participated in the planning and implementation of the Potomac Highlands Regional Tourism and Creative Economy Summit. More than 100 professionals from eight counties heard from leaders in the industry as well as Chelsea Ruby, West Virginia’s Commissioner of Tourism, and Doug Aborgast, WVU Extension Rural Tourism Specialist.
The CVB has opened an office in Moorefield and in Wardensville and is in the process of staffing and furnishing those offices.
Moure-Reeves outlined the challenges the CVB faces going forward. “There have been significant changes on the state level that greatly impact the county CVBs,” she said.
The state’s Matching Advertising Partnership Program has been eliminated, which will significantly reduce the amount of funding available on the local level. “The new cooperative advertising program will be unveiled at the Governor’s Tourism Conference at the end of October,” Moure-Reeves said.
In addition, the prevalence of hosting services like AirBNB and VRBO and their impact on the hotel/motel tax collection has been a topic around the nation, Moure-Reeves said.
“We do not want to create an atmosphere where people cannot use these services,” she said. “But some states are looking at legislation because counties and CVBs are losing necessary income.”
Going forward, Moure-Reeves said the HCCVB’s Special Projects Committee is working to help develop a Hardy County Barn Quilt Trail. “There are several trails in other counties within our region and we hope to see Hardy County join them in a creating a series of region-wide trails,” she said.
The CVB is also reprinting two very popular brochures – “Ride The High Five,” which is geared to motorcycle riders and “Civil War Trails.”
Commissioner William “JR” Keplinger asked if the CVB could help with the annual Poultry Festival. “The Poultry Festival needs direction,” he said.
Moure-Reeves said she has tried to contact officers with the West Virginia Poultry Association to no avail.
“There is new leadership and a new board,” Keplinger said.
“I would love to talk with someone about it,” Moure-Reeves said.
The commission opened bids for the purchase of three vehicles for the Sheriff’s Department – two cruisers and a pickup truck.
County funding for the vehicles was augmented by a grant from the US Department of Agriculture.
Only one bid was received for the vehicles. It was from Weimer Automotive Group in Moorefield.
The bid for the two Dodge Chargers was $27,632 each.
The bid for the Chevrolet truck was $34,585.
According to Deputy JT Miller, the state bids were $29,982 for the Chargers and $34,320 for a Ford pickup.
“I think we’ve had better luck with Ford and General Motors products,” Keplinger said. “The last Chrysler we bought fell apart at 50,000 miles. I’d like to see some more research.”
“Before we do any bids in the future, I’d like the Sheriff to let us know what he’s bidding on,” said Commission President Harold Michael. “I don’t know why we only asked for one vehicle.”
The commissioners also questioned whether the Sheriff kept maintenance records on each vehicle in the fleet. “There should be a record of each vehicle where we can track it and decide if it was a good buy or not,” Michael said.
The commissioners voted to accept the Weimer bids for the two cruisers and the truck.
In response to a request for traffic counts on Fort Run Road, County Coordinator Rose Helmick presented the following information provided by the West Virginia Division of Highways. “The Division of Highways does traffic counts every three years,” she said.
In 2002, the traffic count on Ft. Run Road was 3,070, of which 747 were trucks.
In 2006, the traffic count on Ft. Run Road was 4,116, of which 1,095 were trucks.
In 2008, Corridor H opened and the traffic count on Ft. Run Road was 1,909, of which 277 were trucks.
In 2014, the traffic count of Ft. Run Road was 1,946, of which 279 were trucks.
There have been complaints about the traffic on old Route 55 and at the intersection of old Route 55 and Caledonia Heights Road. Caledonia Heights Road leads to Moorefield Middle and Moorefield Intermediate schools, as well as two residential communities, the former Harco Building, South Branch Valley Drug Court and the WVU Extension office.
“We should send a letter to the Division of Highways requesting a traffic light at that intersection,” Michael said.
911 and OEM
Paul Lewis, director of the Office of Emergency Management and the 911 Center presented his monthly report.
Larry Kuykendall, who works as a private consultant to the 911 Center, was contacted by a property owner in Mathias offering property for a tower in that area. Lewis said he wasn’t sure if a tower on that location could connect to the Helmick Rock tower and the Wardensville tower. They are still investigating. “It appears to Larry to be one of the highest points in that area,” Lewis said.
The Computer Aided Dispatch system will be upgraded on October 24. The dispatchers will be trained with a You-Tube Internet video, which will save money on having a trainer come in person.
Lewis said he released two dispatchers in training and hired two more. “The new ones seem to be catching on quicker,” he said.
Call volume for the month of September was down significantly from both July and August. There were 822 calls in July and 800 in August. In September there were 626 total calls for service. They are as follows:
The Moorefield Police Department had 244 calls.
The Hardy County Sheriff’s Office had 226 calls.
The West Virginia State Police had 74 calls.
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources had 7 calls.
*includes traffic stops
Fraley Ambulance Service had 99 calls.
Hardy County Emergency Ambulance Authority had 39 calls.
Wardensville Volunteer Rescue Squad had 24 calls.
The Moorefield Volunteer Fire Department had 14 calls.
The Mathias-Baker Volunteer Fire Department had 12 calls.
The Capon Valley Volunteer Fire Department had 8 calls.
Lewis said Homeland Security Grants may not be funded this year, but grant applications are being considered with funding left over from previous years.
The regional exercise, held on Sept. 9, was a success, according to Lewis. “I was pleased with the turnout of first responders,” he said.
The OEM will be working on doing an exercise on the east side of the county. While there was some participation, there were several that could not work that day.
Lewis reported the Hardy County Emergency Ambulance Authority board of directors authorized the purchase of two stair chairs and batteries. The board also authorized the purchase of an ambulance. They are working on the Request For Proposal.
“At this point, we have billed $840,000,” Lewis said. “There are some that haven’t paid from 2016. Bills went out again with the late fee.”
Lewis said the HCEAA paid Fraley Ambulance Service their quarterly payment of $15,000.
Lewis requested the commissioners approve a draw-down of $100,000 total. “I only need $50,000 now, but in case I need the other before your next meeting,” he said.
The commissioners approved the request.
Lewis said one board member will have to be replaced because they work for Fraley Ambulance Service and state code prohibits them from serving on the board. A replacement was not discussed.
Donations to Dog Pound
Beth See was on the agenda, but did not appear. However, Helmick spoke on her behalf.
“People are sending money to the ASPCA,” she said. “Ms. See would like to request that they send donations to the Hardy County Dog Pound instead.
“Most of the money sent to the ASPCA is used for administration and advertising. The Dog Pound could use the money for care for the animals in Hardy County.”
Donations to the Hardy County Dog Pound can be sent to the Hardy County Courthouse, 204 Washington St. Moorefield WV 26836. Make checks payable to the Hardy County Dog Fund.
•The payroll register for Aug. 1 – 16 was $66,696.74.
•The payroll register for Aug. 16 – 31 was $67,913.18.
•The county’s contribution to the Farmland Protection Board was $10,725.
•The regional jail bill for August was $70,589.75.
•Fran Welton reported the Red Cross will provide Shelter Training in the near future.
•Helmick reported the estimate for central air conditioning for the old portion of the courthouse was $56,970. The commission approved a resolution to apply for a Courthouse Facilities Improvement Grant for $100,000.
•The commission approved a resolution designating Oct. 11, Breast Cancer Awareness Day in Hardy County. Penny Riffle, with Love Memorial Clinic invited the commissioners to the Wreath Dedication at noon on that day.
•The commission approved the appointment of Tim Wilkins and Tyler Bradfield to the Planning Commission at the request of Hardy County Planner Melissa Scott.
•Hardy County Clerk Gregg Ely reminded the commissioners the Special Election Canvass will be done on Friday, Oct. 13, beginning at 9 a.m.
The next meeting of the Hardy County Commission will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 7, beginning at 9 a.m. Anyone wishing to be included on the agenda should contact the County Clerk’s office at 304-530-0250. The meetings are open to the public.[/private]