CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Paulette Justice, the new executive director of Kanawha Valley Senior Services, told Kanawha County commissioners Tuesday she plans to take the agency in a new, positive direction, but the conversation wasn't without some questions raised by the commissioners.
Justice has been on the job for several weeks after being selected as the new director by the Kanawha Valley Senior Services board of directors.
"It is a new day," she told commissioners. "We're going to try to put the past behind us."
In both cases, the board declined to give a specific reason for the firing.
Justice said she wants to make older residents of Kanawha County feel that they can give input for senior services and include them in decision-making. She said one of the biggest complaints she's heard from older adults is that they don't feel their opinion matters.
There are also new programs in the works as well, she said, including a diabetes education class that will begin in 2014.
However, Commission President Kent Carper said he wanted to see the Senior Services board take a look at its finances and how it can cut costs before asking the commission for funding for projects. He said he wanted to see the board examine whether owning and operating two buildings was necessary, and to look at moving the Senior Nutrition Program back to Kanawha County.
Currently, Putnam Aging operates nutrition services in Kanawha County, something to which the commissioners have previously expressed opposition.
Kanawha Valley Senior Services Board President Ben Blackwell, whom Justice said was recently elected and was also at the commission meeting, said he agreed with Carper about the nutrition situation.
"It doesn't make sense for a corporation in Putnam County to run 11 sites (in Kanawha County)," he said.
Blackwell also said he wanted to take a look at the possibility of having activities for seniors at other locations besides the Tiskelwah Center on Charleston's West Side.
"That's not the place for our organization," he said.
Carper said he believes services for older adults are important, and wants to make sure those services are administered in the best way possible.
"We'll support the seniors - we always have," he said.
* Approved the disbursement of up to $160,000 for the closing of the sale of the Pratt water system to West Virginia American Water, but only when the water company is ready to receive the funds.
The money will pay for closing costs, which includes thousands of dollars in bills the town owes on behalf of its water system. Carper said some of those bills are legal fees the town never paid.
In June, Pratt residents voted to sell the town's aging water system to West Virginia American Water. Later this summer, commissioners agreed to pay some of the costs related to the water system and transfer.
Although West Virginia American Water won't be ready to take possession of the water system until next week, Carper said Mayor Gary Fields told the town's water system employees their last day of work would be Friday.
"Someone's got to manage the water plant until then," Carper said.
* Received an update about early voting for the Kanawha County Board of Education's special election to raise the excess levy. The election, which will cost the board around $350,000, must be administered by the Kanawha County Clerk's office.
County Clerk Vera McCormick said as of Tuesday evening, 939 people had participated in early voting, which began Oct. 26.
"We're averaging about 300 a day," she said.
McCormick estimates about a nine percent turnout for the special levy election, which will be held on Saturday, Nov. 9.
* Discussed its legislative agenda for the 2014 session, which will be finalized before the session begins.
So far, the commission has six items it would like to see addressed by the legislature, including: eliminating the five percent hand-count requirement for election canvasses; change the dates for financial statement to be presented from a 90 day requirement to a fixed date of Oct. 1; clarify who the board of canvassers should be for special elections; a bridge naming in the eastern part of the county; and a salary increase for elected county employees, except commissioners.
The sixth item on the commissioners' legislative agenda will be recommendations from the Kanawha County Substance Abuse Task Force, which will be finalized next month.
Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Mur...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817.