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Putnam panel to look at fire board, fees

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- A board is being formed to re-evaluate how the Putnam County Fire Board spends and distributes its money, County Commissioner Steve Andes said Tuesday.

"We want to reassure people that the extra money we get [from the fire fee increase] is definitely going to be used to pay down our debt -- that's what we asked for and is our first priority," Andes said.

Last year, commissioners approved a 50-percent fire fee increase -- the first fee increase in 25 years.

Because the fire board's finances have virtually been the same for 25 years, Andes said, it would be beneficial for them to be re-examined.

"They could decide nothing needs to be done, or that we need to tweak this or that.  Whatever they decide would still be up to the fire board to adopt," he said.

Two community members with no ties to the fire board are needed to serve, according to Andes. He's also asked that two officials from the county's Chamber of Commerce participate and two mayors -- one from each side of the Kanawha River -- sit on the board. Also, the Hurricane fire chief has agreed to contribute.

In other business, Commissioner Joe Haynes announced Tuesday that the motor that creates the waves at the county's wave pool, which was plagued with problems last summer, will soon be replaced.

The parks and recreation board plans to take out a loan to cover the estimated $170,000 motor and installation costs, Haynes said.

"It was either that or shut down," Haynes said, noting that shutting down "Waves of Fun" isn't being considered because officials hope to eventually expand the popular water park in Hurricane.

"Whether it be with a 'lazy river' or whatever -- we've got the room to expand, it's a matter of getting it financed," Haynes said. "It's on our 'it'd be nice to have list.'"

Also at the meeting, commissioners approved $400 be given to former commissioner Jim Withrow for two of his ewe's attacked and killed by dogs near Buffalo last year.

County attorney Jennifer Scragg Karr said a portion of fees collected at the county's animal shelter are used to help when dogs kill livestock and the dogs' owners can't afford to pay the damage.

Three animal shelter employees examined the ewes and could tell it was, in fact, dogs that attacked them rather than wild coyotes or some other animal and appraised them at $200 a piece.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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