New position will be responsible for tracking local efforts to meet EPA mandates
May 17, 2011
MARTINSBURG - Region 9 Planning and Development Council members decided at their meeting Monday to apply for state funds to hire a Chesapeake Bay Program coordinator for the tri-county area.
Region 9's territory includes Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties, and members are appointed by the counties and the municipalities within the territory.
The idea for a program coordinator stemmed from a Jefferson County Council of Governments meeting last month.
Representatives of the county, Ranson and Charles Town set a goal at that meeting to find someone to keep track of what local jurisdictions are doing to improve water quality and how that impacts requirements placed on local jurisdictions as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Restoration Program.
"This would require staff time and we don't have the opportunity on the county level," Jefferson County Commissioner Lyn Widmyer told Region 9 members. "This is a great opportunity to keep track of the positive steps we're taking."
Widmyer represents the Jefferson County Commission on Region 9 and took part in the Council of Governments meeting.
Carol Goolsby, Region 9 executive director, added that the coordinator could compile information from the different sectors, such as agriculture and wastewater treatment plant operators, in addition to the governmental jurisdictions.
She said the funds would come from an EPA accountability grant through the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
The total grant amount would be about $70,000, of which 25 percent would have to come from Region 9, she explained. However, the local matching share could be in-kind services, such as administration and office space, so Region 9 would have any cash outlay, she said.
Goolsby pointed out that Region 9 would have to reapply for the grant each year, but there should be enough grant money available for five or six years. She also said that after the first or second year, the match might increase to 50/50.
Region 9's personnel committee will write a job description and work plan for the coordinator's position, which will be part of the grant application.
In other action, council members decided to not take any action on a request to become part of the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Coalition, a lobbying effort proposed by Alcalde and Fay lobbying firm based in Arlington, Va.
According to information provided by the firm to Region 9, Alcalde and Fay apparently is soliciting local governments, regional organizations that represent local governments and private sector companies to form a group to push for funding and other items related to the EPA's Chesapeake Bay Restoration Program.
Region 9 would have been assessed $5,000 to be a member of the coalition, according to the information.
Goolsby said that because Region 9 receives federal funding, it could not participate.
Individual municipalities and counties could join, according to the information, but there did not seem to be much enthusiasm by council members to join individually, either.
- Staff reporter John McVey can be reached at 304-263-3381, ext. 128, or firstname.lastname@example.org