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Wood County votes to open parks, picnic shelters

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Commission decided Monday to fully reopen the county parks and begin to take reservations for picnic shelters.

The commission unanimously agreed to reopen the picnic shelters and rest rooms and take reservations for the shelters as well as hang signs around the playground equipment that the equipment has not been sanitized and people using the parks need to take it upon themselves to clean off the equipment before their kids use it.

”With the weather being good, I think we ought to reopen,” Commissioner Robert Tebay said.

The order will go into effect immediately, officials said.

Commission President Blair Couch said guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control indicate the COVID-19 viruses will die within a few hours in warmer temperatures and direct sunlight.

”Normal cleaning with soap and water removes the germs too,” he added.

The county is going back to the normal operations of their parks, he said.

”People will want to call and book shelters and we will take those calls,” Couch said.

Officials said they already have a wait list for people wanting to reserve the shelters.

”Those folks will get a call and get first shot at this,” Couch said. ”Let’s get back at it.”

In other business, County Administrator Marty Seufer told commissioners there is now a deadline of June 15 to get back any reimbursement from the state over its COVID-19 response for the months of March and April.

”If you forgot something from that time, you won’t be reimbursed,” he said. ”It seems to change almost every day in what is required and what they will make good.”

Wood County Sheriff Steve Stephens said his department has handed in copies of their overtime expenses.

Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes said he is doing postage and other expenses related to the election under a grant.

The state received around $1.2 billion in federal funding for COVID-19 related expenses. However, there are specific requirements in how that money is distributed.

”We are doing the best we can,” Seufer said.

Wood County Grant Coordinator Toni Tiano is keeping track of things and has been gathering a number of receipts to be able to apply for funding.

”We’re going through it piece by piece to get back all the money we can,” Seufer said. ”We are just trying to get everything together so we can get our money.

”We are working hard to make sure we get every single thing.”

Also, Wood County was recently awarded $45,272 in funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program, which received funding in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced.

County officials said that funding will reimburse the Wood County Sheriff’s Department for Personal Protective Equipment.

The county is looking to get reimbursement for the rent it paid for its drive-through facility that was opened up to allow people conducting business with the county to be able to drive through without getting out of their cars or having direct face-to-face contact with someone.

Other expenses for which reimbursement is being sought include Plexiglas shields and more.

Officials announced the county jail bill for May is $152,759.50. For April it was around $140,000 with an additional $10,000 in credits applied. ”It is the lowest it has been in years,” said Pam Brust, Wood County Courts Coordinator.

As far as COVID-19 cases, Wood County has only had two new cases since May 25, Couch said.

The county has had 51 confirmed cases, 43 have since recovered and there were nine active cases as of May 31.

The Office of Veterans Affairs will be moving its offices from the Wood County Courthouse and will be moving to St. Joseph’s Landing, commissioners said. Their last day in the Courthouse will be July 31.

”It is not easily accessible for the veterans who need it,” Couch said.

Officials hope veterans will have better access at the new location.

Seufer told commissioners that June 29 is the target date for crews to put the new steeple on the Wood County Courthouse bell tower. The tower is undergoing renovation work.

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