FAIRMONT — Special forces are coming to Marion County, but they will be hard to spot and identify.
The Marion County Commission signed a memorandum of understanding at Wednesday’s meeting with Marine Forces Special Operations Command and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Jimmy Riffle said the agreement allows the Marines to come here to conduct specialized training for soldiers and communication experts.
“They just come into the area. You really won’t even notice they’re here. They’re not going to be wearing uniforms running through the streets or anything like that,” Riffle said.
Riffle said the training will focus on recognizance and urban operations. If the military would happen to go into a city similar to Fairmont or an area of similar terrain to Marion County, he said, the soldiers would be the first ones in.
“Probably the only thing citizens will notice is a few helicopters now and then bringing these folks in and that they’re not going to be weaponized. They’re not going to be walking through the streets with rifles or hand grenades, anything like that,” Riffle said.
In other business, Dr. P.S. Martin presented an overview of a program he created to help enhance health care in Marion County. Martin is the first board certified EMS physician in West Virginia, and since his return to the area, he said, he was able to attract four more doctors to the state.
“The goal there is most of us have had some pre-hospital experience before and the goal there is not to replace EMS in the field but to augment what’s there,” Martin said.
He said it was a two-pronged approach, one is advanced care that is beyond the scope of what EMS can do and education along the way involving research.
“My goal is to expand it as we get more and more EMS physicians that we can expand it to cover all the rural areas of the state,” Martin said.
Martin said not only does he want to see the EMS program expand but would like to see home visits take place in rural communities to allow follow up with patients.
“My goal is to keep it free. I don’t want to charge anyone for it,” Martin said.
A $300,000 grant was provided to get started with the program. Martin said that money was great for a start but not enough to keep the program going.
“My goal now is to find a way we can perpetuate it and keep it free to the patients and the EMS agents we are serving,” Martin said.
Commission President Randy Elliott said Martin’s assistance to the EMS in Marion County is “very important.” Elliott said the county would be willing to be helpful in any way they can.
“We appreciate what he’s done. Take into consideration he’s getting paid nothing for this...yes, we can help and I’m sure he’ll get help from other areas too,” Elliott said.
President and CEO of Mon Health David Goldberg said as Mon Health has a hospital opening in White Hall in December he would commit a donation to support Dr. Martin’s program.
Goldberg said he is excited Mon Health is growing in Marion County. He said Mon Health is glad to be a partner of the county commission.
“I want to be at the table with you. We are providing a $15 million project and I want to be able to partner and make sure we’re funded for the long haul and to be partners with you to make sure the health care needs in the county are taken care of,” Goldberg said.
Commissioners also recognized the retirement of Jeff Biafore who was the maintenance supervisor for the county. Biafore spent nearly 10 years serving the county.
“It’s amazing to me in a short period of time he addressed every issue we had here,” Elliott said.
Elliott said Biafore took his job seriously, did a lot of remodeling and put things back they way there were.
Biafore said was grateful for the time he spent working for the county. He said he was grateful for his parents who gave him a good upbringing and his family who was there to support him Wednesday.
“I appreciate everything that you all have done for me. I made a good living. Hopefully, I made a difference for the county,” Biafore said.