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Kanawha commission hires facilities director for Shawnee sports complex

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Shawnee Park multi-sport complex.

The Kanawha County Commission on Thursday hired a facilities director for the Shawnee Park multi-sport complex, at least two months before it expects to break ground on the project.

Katie Arthur will be a contract employee for $5,000 a month at first with the option of being a full-time employee later for $60,000 a year, the commission decided.

Commissioner Ben Salango has said he hopes the county will break ground on the facility by November. Until it does, the facilities director will work on getting travel sports tournaments booked at the complex, creating the structure of the facility and applying for grants, Salango said.

Arthur, originally of Wheeling, has a degree in business with emphasis in finance and economics, Salango said.

Arthur and her husband, Adam Arthur, run the indoor Charleston soccer facility Football Factory.

“[Katie Arthur] is very familiar with youth travel sports,” Salango said earlier this week. “She’s worked at the Quantum indoor sports facility and the Football Factory,” Salango said. “She has a lot of contacts in travel sports and can really help create these tournaments and make sure we’re using this facility to its full potential.”

In order to break even and put some money away for the upkeep of the turf, the sports complex needs to host about 15 tournaments a year, Salango said. During the rest of the time, the complex will be available for use by local sports teams, Salango said.

Arthur said she’s “ready to get started and blessed to be a part of the project.”

Before the construction gets underway, the commission still is waiting on an analysis of chemicals tests done at Shawnee Park. The commission announced at a July meeting the results of initial tests done at the property, which indicate that there chemicals in the groundwater and soil gas at the park.

Dow agreed to fund the chemical tests and an “independent consultant’s evaluation” at Shawnee Regional Park after West Virginia State University sued the company alleging that decades of chemical manufacturing at the nearby Institute plant contaminated the groundwater beneath its campus. After the report from CH2M Hill, the commission hired S&S Engineering to do third-party peer-review of the results and to conduct additional core and air tests at the facility. Commission President Kent Carper said the county may have results from that analysis as early as Friday or Monday. Once the results are in, the commission plans to have an open meeting with a representative of the firm to explain the results of the testing.

Carper said the golf course also has fly ash, a derivative of burnt coal. Carper said assuming the results of the analysis are back and officials can understand it, they could make a final decision on the park “soon.”

Carper said the engineering firm looked at the results of the initial tests done at the park and could have stopped the project by now if it thought it should not go forward because of the chemicals at the property.

“[The engineer has] been given authority to red line this project himself. Period. And he might,” Carper said.

Adam Krason, of ZMM Architects and Engineers, also showed the commission three new artist renderings of the project. The firm hopes to have the final version of what the park will look like next week, he said.

Also Thursday, the county commission held a public hearing and voted to raise its excise tax for transferring real property by 55 cents for each $500 in value. Carper said the additional money will be used to pay for the county’s jail bill, which is about $5 million a year and continues to increase. Carper said the tax had not been raised in 28 years. The Legislature earlier this year passed Senate Bill 433, which gives counties the ability to raise the tax, he said. Two people spoke out against increasing the tax. Carper said the county will have an additional public hearing about the tax at its next meeting and officials “can always undo it.”

In other business:

n The commission agreed to support a payment in lieu of taxes for a medical facility that will be operated by Thomas Hospital and Stonerise Health. Carper said the county’s agreement to the PILOT, which would lower the tax burden for the medical center, is contingent on agreement from other affected entities including the county board of education. The agreement will be $50,000 for 15 years, Carper said. The post-acute care facility will bring 100 new jobs to Kanawha County, Carper said. The $17 million facility will be built on the campus of the hospital in South Charleston, officials said. Carper said the city of South Charleston asked the commission to support the PILOT.

n The commission swore in a new sheriff’s deputy, Matthew Wolfe.

n The commission set this year’s trick or treat hours for 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 31.

n The commission approved the distribution of $700,000 in public safety grants for police, fire and emergency services agencies across the county. The commission also agreed to allocate $10,000 for the Town of Clendenin’s police department, though the town missed the application period for the grant. Newly-elected Mayor Shana Clendenin said the applications were due before she took over as mayor.

n County Clerk Vera McCormick said the county will not use its new electronic voting machines during the upcoming special road bond election Oct. 7. McCormick said Gov. Jim Justice stipulated that the election be by paper ballot. The election will cost the county about $250,000 and the state about $3 million, McCormick said. Carper said he supports the bond, saving that the state may have a tragedy if it doesn’t fix its roads.

n The commission agreed to contribute up to $50,000 for a football score board and up to $20,000 for a baseball scoreboard at Riverside High School.

n Commissioners agreed to declare September “Emergency Preparedness Month.”

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1240 or follow @LoriKerseyWV on Twitter.

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