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Wood County commissioner hopes for state money for new health department

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 5:21 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Wood County Commission President Blair Couch wants to find out whether the state of West Virginia could fund a new building for the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department.

It would replace the aging building that’s been located at 6th and Juiliana streets for decades.

While it’s located in Wood County, the health department serves a six-county area and is not eligible for county Recovery Act money.

Couch says the current location is showing its age, but it is also is important to the community.

”Part of the American Recovery program that the state receives says it can be used for water, sewer, broadband and public health,” Couch said Monday. “This is public health, and it’s the most direct conduit to vaccines, flu shots, STD testing and STD management.”

Couch says the health department still hasn’t recovered from state budget cuts in 2015, which forced it to lay off more than a dozen employees.

He also suggested seeking funding for expansion of broadband to areas not currently able to receive internet service, including the Belleville area.

Meanwhile, Wood County Prosecutor Pat Lefebure briefed the commission on plans to hire an investigator for the county prosecutor’s office. Pat Lefebure got the money for the position in the budget the commissioners approved back in March. That fiscal year budget takes effect July 1.

He discussed in executive session possible candidates for the job. No action was taken by the commission on any candidates.

The individual hired could be a retired law enforcement officer, and, as such, could carry a weapon. He would work separately from police in handling cases set to go to to trial.

”I really want to focus on domestic violence and making contact with the victims,” Prosecutor Lefebure told the commission. “We have a real problem with victims not appearing; they come down and they file charges. Within a couple of weeks, they’re back to ‘everything’s great’, and they don’t follow through.”

The commission Monday also recognized Presley Amos, a student at Edison Middle School. Amos received an Honorable Mention in an essay competition, where participants wrote about he workings of county government.

Amos, in her essay, focused on the duties of county commissioners.

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