February 13, 2023
Upshur County Commission
Shane Whitehair, Executive Director of Region VII Planning and Development Council during the February 9th Upshur County Commission meeting.
BUCKHANNON – The Executive Director of Region VII Planning and Development Council, Shane Whitehair, addressed the Upshur County Commission last Thursday to request $1500.00 to cover a portion of the regional hazard mitigation plan costs. The plan is set to expire in July.
“We are tasked with the responsibility of developing and writing a regional multi-hazard mitigation plan. It’s a thing we do every five years; this is probably our third round of doing it. We have direction from the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security Emergency Management to do this on behalf of all of our local communities and local governments," Whitehair said.
"It avoids you guys from having the responsibility to do it because it is timely, it is costly to develop this plan and it is very complex. So we have a committee set up to generate goals and look at all the disasters. We’re all under the direction of FEMA to make sure all regulations are followed, so fire departments, for example, receive access to the hazard mitigation grant program for generators or things of that nature. So, in order to be eligible for those programs as grants, you have to be part of a hazard mitigation plan.” he said.
“It’s important that we stay on top of this to make sure it doesn’t expire and continues every five years to make sure our communities and organizations have the opportunity to access those programs,” he said.
“So, in paying for this… what we have typically and historically done is we actually submit applications to FEMA, and just to give you an idea, it’s a $115,000 plan. So we submitted an application to FEMA requesting funds to pay for a consultant to help us out because it is so complex," he said.
Typically what has happened is the state of West Virginia covers (on every FEMA project) a 25 percent non federal share match.
"Well, we submitted the application in December of 2021 and we were approved in November of last year, and in between that time… the state has taken a position to kind of throw that non federal share back on the local communities. So the state’s not covering that. Looking at our project, 25 percent of the $115,000 is roughly $28,000 that we have to come up with to match this plan.” Whitehair said.
“My idea is to go back to the local communities. I’m not asking for a lot, but I am asking to be fair… every county commission and a handful or a half a dozen or so local governments and local municipalities to help with the match. Our regional council is covering roughly $12,000. So what I’m asking of Upshur County is $1,500 and I’m asking every county commission for the same amount. We’re asking the municipalities for a little bit less ($1000) because they are a little smaller," he said.
"Right now I have four local governments that have approved it and I’m in the process of going to all the county commission meetings. You’re the first step by the way, so I’m here today asking for $1,500 to cover a portion of that match requirement," he said.
The Upshur County Commission unanimously voted to approve Mr. Whitehair's request for $1500.
Watch Executive Director of Region VII Planning and Development Council, Shane Whitehair's full address to Commission: