A bill the Kanawha County Commission and its staff worked to have introduced and eventually passed during the last session of the Legislature is on track to save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in regional jail billings.
House Bill 4388, which allows counties to stop making payments to the regional jail system for the cost of housing inmates beyond their conviction dates, took effect on July 1. By projecting billings received since then through the rest of the fiscal year, Kanawha County stands to see its annual regional jail costs to drop by $500,000 or more, according to Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper.
“What a novel concept: having state prisoners in state custody being paid for by the state,” Carper said of the bill during a commission meeting on Thursday.
Carper said the commission and its staff worked for five years to have the bill signed into law. He credited Delegate Andrew Robinson, D-Kanawha, and former House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, with helping shepherd the bill through the legislative process.
Robinson, who attended the meeting, said passage of the bill will be especially helpful to counties trying to make ends meet while coal severance tax income plummets.
Also on Thursday, the commission approved $10,000 UKAN (Upper Kanawha Valley Business Assistance) loans for two businesses in Montgomery and one in Rand.
The newly created Right Path Transportation Company in Montgomery will use its loan to help buy vehicles and hire drivers for what its founders hope to become a 24/7 operation with statewide reach.
Right Path’s president, Milford Ziegler, and chief operating officer, Tammy Pritt-Jones, told commissioners they plan to open for business on Oct. 1 and immediately put nine employees on the payroll.
Andrew Gould of Mining Motors Inc., an existing business located in Montgomery, will use his company’s $10,000 UKAN loan to buy equipment and materials needed to offer commercial electric motor rewinding. Gould said he also wants to continue expanding his company’s electric motor services to serve industries beyond coal production, and to hire two more employees to the seven now on his staff.
Kimberly Walker Payne of Rand, owner of Heavenly Flavored Cupcakes and Cobblers, will use her UKAN loan to convert her garage into a commercial bakery. The Rand woman currently sells her baked goods and other food items at special events, such as Live on the Levee, in Charleston.
The first half of her $10,000 loan was issued during Thursday’s meeting, with the rest to be paid after her in-home bakery is certified by health officials.
UKAN loan recipients who keep their businesses viable — and in Kanawha County — are eligible to have their loans forgiven after two years.
County Commissioners also set this year’s trick or treat from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31. This is the same time the City of Charleston will have their trick or treat.