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The Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission on Wednesday approved a sick leave policy meant to encourage its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Under the policy, unvaccinated workers who miss work for COVID-19-related reasons must use their own sick time or annual leave to do so. Vaccinated workers who are absent because they test positive or have a reaction to the vaccine may be put on paid administrative leave.

The Kanawha County Commission approved the same policy for its employees at its meeting earlier this month.

“This is a very simple policy,” said Kanawha County Commissioner Lance Wheeler, who also serves on the parks board. “This policy is fair, in my opinion. You’re going to have some individuals try to say this is pro-vaccination, anti-vaccination. What this is, at least for the county commission’s position, is saving taxpayer dollars and working towards actually taking care of those who actually need to be taken care of. We ask that you adopt this policy as well.”

The parks commission has 19 employees, most of whom have been vaccinated, said director Jeff Hutchinson.

“We have a few that have not been vaccinated, have chosen not to get it,” Hutchinson said. “So this will really clean that up and [the policy will] go out in a packet and they’ll know what it is, and it may make a difference to them now, hopefully.”

Also Wednesday, the commission voted to hire ZMM Architects for a study of its clubhouse to determine what improvements are needed in an effort to make the venue more marketable for weddings and other special events. The $18,500 will be paid for by the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said retired Maj. Gen. Allen Tackett, a member of the board.

Hutchinson said an order of 25,000 Christmas lights the commission has ordered for Coonskin Park’s annual Christmas display from a Chinese manufacturer have been delayed until October.

Work on the Christmas lights usually starts in July, but has been held up.

Hutchinson said the light display will take place this Christmas.

“If I have to stand out there with a flashlight and flicker it on and off on the displays, we’ll have some type of light show this year,” Hutchinson said.

Lori Kersey covers the city and county. She can be reached at 304-348-1240 or

Follow @LoriKerseyWV on Twitter.

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