NEW CUMBERLAND -Hancock County Courthouse employees got an early Christmas present Thursday from county commissioners, who announced a $100-a-month raise.
The raise will be effective with the first pay period in January and will apply to 116 employees in county departments under the commissioners' authority.
Employees last got a raise two years ago, Commissioner Dan Greathouse said.
Commissioners opted for the raise over a one-time Christmas bonus after looking at the budget, Greathouse said.
"We did have enough money in discretionary funds to do it," he said. "We had a pool of money that we didn't have budgeted left over from the last fiscal year."
Several department heads present at Thursday's commissioners' meeting thanked Commissioners Greathouse, Jeff Davis and Mike Swartzmiller for the raise. Among them was recently appointed County Clerk George Foley, who already had obtained $100-a-month raises for four recording office clerks in October.
Foley asked for the raise because, with his promotion to the clerk's position in September, four people now are doing the work of five. Commissioners did not fill the vacancy created by Foley's promotion. Thursday's raise is in addition to the one announced in October, Greathouse said.
The raises also apply to Hancock County sheriff's deputies, tax office employees, assessor's office employees, Circuit Court clerks, prosecutor's office employees, West Virginia University Extension Service-Hancock County employees, 911 Center dispatchers and Office of Emergency Management employees, Greathouse said.
The raises do not apply to the commissioners or other elected officials, he said.
Also Thursday, commissioners rejected the latest round of bid packages for the new 911 Dispatch Center/Office of Emergency Management building, saying they need more time to evaluate potential sites.
"There are ongoing discussions on where to locate the new building that may lead to changes that will affect the building construction," said Robert Vidas, executive director of the county's Office of Technology and Communications.
Vidas told commissioners the 60-day period to review the bids expires on Monday, so it would be best for the bids to be rejected and the project rebid at a later time.
Commissioners said the fact that they rejected the nine bids was not a reflection on the bids' quality or amount. "It's just a courtesy to the contractors, to let them know that we need more time and that they can bid on this at a later date," Davis said.
Although commissioners have said all along they want to build the new headquarters on county-owned land next to Crestview Park, on Thursday they said they're also considering an unspecified second site.
"There's another option out there, and we don't know if it's still available," Swartzmiller said.
Commissioners have said that they would like to break ground in the spring. The project, originally envisioned as a joint 911/OEM-health department complex, was delayed in the spring when construction bids came in significantly over budget. Commissioners rejected those six bids and sent the project back to the architect for further review.
The project then was rebid with the health department component removed.
Also Thursday, commissioners entered into an agreement with the West Virginia Development Office to receive and administer a $3,000 grant for the Newell Community Improvement Coalition to make improvements to Laurel Hollow Park.