Bloom touts new DOH contact, commission approves courthouse bid

MORGANTOWN — Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom said Wednesday he’s not sure what’s changed at the West Virginia Division of Highways, or why, but he hopes it continues. 

Days after it was learned the DOH is reversing years of precedent by contracting some core maintenance work in Monongalia County, Bloom said he was contacted by an individual who’s been appointed to serve as a kind of liaison between the county and the DOH. 

“I received a phone call from Mr. John D. Vaughn who’s working with [District Manager] Mike Daley in District 4. He’s been asked to work with Monongalia County to look at the problems we’re having,” Bloom said. “We had a great conversation. My priorities, as I said to him, are the entrances to the city and the county, and to start taking care of the major problems we’re having.” 

Efforts to confirm this with the DOH and seek further information on the purpose of this individual’s role, why such a position is necessary and whether it’s being done anywhere else in the state were unsuccessful.     

Members of the commission say they view it as a positive development, just as they viewed the DOH giving Anderson Excavating a $2.2 million contract to take on the state’s ditching work in Monongalia, Preston and Harrison counties — an idea the state resisted for years. 

“This is a major shift. I don’t care why it’s happening. Let’s just move forward,” Bloom said. “I appreciate Charleston now listening, recognizing that we’re the economic engine for the state and that we want to work together.”  

Bloom said that while he believes the county’s new liaison is both “shocked at the shape our roads are in” and “has the resources to get it done from the state department,” he’s keeping his expectations in check, for now.

“I’m not expecting miracles. I just want some simple wins. I think the public has been deserving that,” he said. 

In other county news, the commission approved a $114,948 contract with Veritas Contracting to remodel the congested space that serves as the security checkpoint for the 133-year-old Monongalia County Courthouse.   

A portion of the wall behind the current security desk will be bumped back to get security out of the flow of traffic in the first-floor hallway. 

On the other side of that wall is unused space that was once the circuit clerk’s office and will soon be part of the county clerk’s office. 

Mills Group was paid $12,300 to design and administer the project. 

The construction will be completed at night and should have minimal impact on normal operations. 

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