Members of Operation Image, a local grassroots organization dedicated to the beautification of Marion County, were on hand at Wednesday’s county commission meeting seeking funding to help with various projects.

Bob Gribben, associate director of the Fairmont Community Development Partnership, the organization which administers Operation Image, and Sharon Shaffer, an Operation Image volunteer, were on hand to discuss the funding.

Shaffer asked for $15,000 to help fund the construction of four informational kiosks, four welcome or gateway signs and general clean up.

Shaffer said she realized that the commissioners had provided smaller amounts of funding to Operation Image in the past, but the organization had been defunct for several years and needed to get caught up on certain projects.

“And we are looking for funding from other agencies too,” she said.

Nancy Bickerstaff, a longtime member of Operation Image and the agency’s projects coordinator, praised the commissioners for their efforts in “taking care of what we have.”

She pointed to the commissioners work in reopening the 12th Street Pool as one of the ways the county has attempted to clean up and revitalize areas.

“And I thank you for that,” Bickerstaff said.

The commissioners took no action on the funding request during Wednesday’s meeting. The motion was made to review the request, discuss the funding amount, and return with an answer at the next commission meeting.

Tina Shaw, president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, was also on hand to request funding. Shaw was seeking funding to help fund a trip to Charleston for 35 students with the Marion County Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership and Senior Forum group during the legislative session.

Members of the group traveled to the state capital during the last session in order to introduce a bill which would strengthen DUI laws into both houses of the Legislature, Shaw said. She said the students will again introduce the same bill this session. Among other provisions, the bill would require those convicted of DUI to be sentenced to mandatory community service, Shaw said.

The students wrote the legislation and also gave presentations concerning the proposed bill to members of the Legislature, Shaw added. She noted that Sen. Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, and his staff helped out tremendously.

“His (Prezioso) help was invaluable,” Shaw said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to provide $3,000 to the group to help fund the numerous trips to Charleston which are required when the bill is introduced. The money will come out of the county’s coal severance fund.

The commissioners also heard three presentations from companies which would provide aerial photography of the county. The aerial photography could be used by various agencies in the county for both economic development and emergency responses, said Jim Priester, Marion County assessor.

Priester pointed out that the aerial photography should be done sometime during the next spring and that the information should be given to the county by the fall of next year. He also noted that at some time in the future, the aerial photos would be accessible to the public via the Internet.

Priester pointed out that the information provided by the three companies would be reviewed by a committee. He added that the decision about which company the county would use for the project would be decided at a later date.

The commissioners also awarded the bid for 22 laptops to be used by the sheriff’s department. The bid was awarded to CDW. The company submitted a bid for $41,178. Commissioner Wayne Stutler said that the bid was awarded to the company which met all of the criteria set forth for the computers.

The county commissioners also voted unanimously to designate November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

The commissioners will not hold a meeting on Nov. 5 since it is the day after the general election. The commissioners will again meet on Nov. 12 at 10 a.m.

E-mail Paul Fallon at pfallon@timeswv.com.

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