By Stephen Smoot
On Oct 4, the Harrison County Commission met at 9 AM. They opened with the Lords’ Prayer, then the Pledge of Allegiance, before setting to work.
After Susan Thomas, Harrison County Commission president, started the meeting, they heard from a representative of the Meuse-Argonne Post 573 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Richard Iaquinta, Parade Chairman, rose to speak.
Iaquinta shared that the post would hold a veterans’ parade on November 10, the Friday before the 11th and that the organization requested $2,500 to support its efforts. He explained that “we’re all setting up. We’ll provide meals for veterans and anyone associated with the parade.”
Funds would also help to replace the flags along the parade route that have aged.
Before Iaquinta could finish, the commission quickly made a motion and approved his request. He responded with “Thank you very much, We appreciate that.”
Next, a representative from the Fort New Salem Foundation appeared to request support from the commission. Dr. Joseph Audia, board chair said “thank you for allowing us to come and talk this morning.”
He described how the pandemic had shut down a flourishing public program that attracted many and helped the foundation to raise funds over the years. The most significant program was what the Spirit of Christmas event.
In 2019, the foundation said of its event “journey with us back in time to Christmas in the Appalachian frontier of the mid- 19th century. Festivities feature music provided by area choirs, dulcimer music, gifts for sale, weaving, spinning, printing, spoon carving, potting, blacksmithing, open hearth cooking, Belsnickeling and a traditional tree lighting with our grand processional.”
The 2019 program set a record for attendance, but the foundation did not hold an event in either 2020 or 2021. It opened on a limited basis in 2022, but a full slate of programs reappeared this year along with school tours.
Audia explained that “shuttle buses are a big help” in making the event a success. With limited parking on site, Salem University allowed the use of one of its lots. Walking that distance, however, could prove a strain for seniors and families with small children.
Thomas said “it’s a nice event. I’ve been there.”
Audia presented a request for $4,800 to pay for the shuttle buses. Commissioner David Hinkle responded by making a motion to give $5,000, which the commission quickly approved.
The last item discussed was the previous meeting’s presentation by Bearing Advisors.
Thomas stated that Bearing still had outstanding claims they had not yet paid and also that “we have employees who think they are covered.” Laura Pysz, county administrator, said that county elected officials needed to be informed of the situation. Patsy Trescot, county commissioner, followed by saying “we need employees to know that we are not participating in coverage . . . that we do not have any participation whatsoever.”
Thomas explained that “we have never paid any premiums to the company” and none were collected. Additionally, Bearing told one claimant that they had to pay $1,000 of back premiums to get their claim paid.
Trescot added “don’t let someone think there is money coming that is not.”
Hinkle followed with “I want to go on the record as supporting what Mr. Trescot says.”
Trescot also stated that the county does offer other benefit plans.