Editor’s note: This story was updated April 28 to include the county’s allocation to the Hodgesville Public Service District, which was accidentally omitted in the original story. The Hodgesville PSD requested and received just over $923,000, the largest amount the county granted to any one entity.
BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission approved allocating about $2.9 of the $4.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds they received in 2021 to external entities, with the county’s Public Service Districts emerging as some of the largest beneficiaries.
Upshur County received a total of $4,695,905 in ARPA funds, and guidelines for how the federal dollars could be spent were released in January 2022.
Upshur County Administrator Carrie Wallace said the commission must have all the funds allocated no later than Dec. 21, 2024; however, the commission has been given an additional two years to spend the money – until Dec. 31, 2026. The funds may be used on expenses incurred between March 3, 2022, and Dec. 31, 2026, Wallace added.
About $1.66 million in ARPA monies had already been allocated to expenses that fall under ‘General County,’ so that left commissioners with $2,966,696, Wallace explained.
“There are a number of items that have come to you since the ARPA money has been received and you have said, ‘We would like to fund that out of ARPA,’ but today’s the day you’re going to take official action,” Wallace said. “Those items are under General County, which is $1.66 million, so that leaves you with $2,966,696 to consider for today.”
Some of the largest requests and allocations came from local Public Service Districts, or PSDs, hoping to make a series of water system improvements to critical infrastructure. The Hodgesville PSD, by far, received the largest amount of federal funds. The Hodgesville PSD received all of the $923,411.50 manager Terry Could had requested.
Additionally, the Adrian PSD requested $1,441,532 and received $290,000; the Elkins Road PSD requested and received $253,000; the Mt. Hope Water Association asked for $1,048,342.31 and received $290,000; and the Tennerton PSD requested $91,995.82 and received $92,000.
The James W. Curry Library and the Upshur County Public library received all the funds they requested.
“The James W. Curry Advisory Board is requesting $75,000 and that represents the amount of money the James Curry Advisory Board has given the Upshur County Public Library as part of the commission’s donation to them for the last 10 years at $5,000 per year, as well as one of the employees’ 50 percent of the [cost of health] insurance was charged to the James Curry library for a number of years and should have been split between the Curry library and ‘General County,’” Wallace said. “With this amount of money, the library would satisfy their arrears in payroll reimbursements, as well as hire an attorney to research our issues with the [James W. Curry] trust and then give them a little bit of operating revenue to continue their programming.”
The Upshur County Public Library requested $80,000 for new LED lights and the replacement of the first-floor carpet.
“This quote is for your standard rolled carpet,” Wallace said. “They did replace a small portion of the first-floor carpet within the last 10 years; however, it was not your good commercial grade, and it has really shown, so with the purchase as well as the installation you’re looking at around $80,000 for the Upshur County Public Library.”
The Mountain CAP Child Advocacy Center requested $20,000, and the commission allocated $5,000 to go toward operating expenses.
“This is not to be confused with their childcare center,” Wallace explained. “This is the group that provides the psychological evaluations for children that have been subjected to trauma and Upshur County.”
The commission decided to contribute $150,000 to the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department for desperately needed renovations to their building.
“Their request to you is for $225,000 – that is their base bid plus the alternate one, minus the $150,000 they’ve contributed – so this doesn’t do their entire renovation, but it does the base and alternate one, which is really the minimum requirements,” Wallace said.
Upshur County Commissioner Sam Nolte said he wanted to help the health department but couldn’t see supplying the full request.
“I would like to help the health department in some way, just because we have come through an unusual time in history, and I would at least like to match what they have going in,” Nolte said. “I think they could probably find $75,000 more, but I would be okay with matching them, dollar-for-dollar on their $150,000.”
The Upshur County Youth Camp requested $109,500 for lost revenue and operation costs, but the commission approved $20,000.
“We did help them out last year – it was funding to help them carry through and they know we’ll be there for them in the future besides now – so I’d like to think we could give $20,000 towards them and we can address that as needed going forward,” Nolte said.
The commission also approved allocating $115,550 to the Buckhannon-Upshur Airport Authority for a new courtesy vehicle and revenue reimbursement for fuel sales. The Warren District Community Building requested and received $6,500 for a new HVAC system. The commission declined to provide funds to Upshur County Youth Baseball/Softball after they requested $350,000 for revenue loss and construction costs for an indoor facility.
“I feel like if we’re going to do an indoor facility, I think it needs to be more in line with all sports activities that we have going on,” Nolte said. “I think Upshur County is in dire need of that sort of facility for all ages, I think it would be very important, but maybe not just baseball.”
The commission also decided to not allocate any funds to the Mountaineer Food Bank or the West Virginia Strawberry Festival Association.