By Tina Alvey
In a surprise move at the conclusion of a marathon regular session, the Greenbrier County Commission agreed to instruct their attorney to ask for a refund of the $1.3 million allocated last year for renovation of an indoor swimming pool.
The decision to request the New River Community and Technical College Foundation give the funds back came on a 2-1 vote with commission President Karen Lobban voting against the measure.
Only three people remained in the audience by the time the commissioners emerged from the latter of two back-to-back executive sessions that together consumed 80 minutes of the 3-hour meeting.
Those who heard the final vote, taken at 10 p.m. Tuesday, were David Nalker, a member of the college’s Board of Governors; Mary Jo Sharp, one of the people who filed a lawsuit challenging the $1.3 million expenditure of hotel/motel tax funds; and a Register-Herald reporter.
Neither Nalker nor Sharp offered comment following the commission’s action.
Upon questioning by Lobban prior to the vote, Commissioner Woody Hanna clarified his motion to have Greenbrier County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Via draft a letter asking that the money be returned by saying, “Return it to the county commission, and we’ll put it in a separate account.”
Hanna said the separate account would be maintained until the judge assigned to hear the lawsuit filed by Sharp and others makes a ruling on the merits of the legal challenge. With final briefs due in the judge’s hands this week, a ruling could come later this month.
College officials announced at an earlier commission meeting that they were proceeding as planned with the renovation of the indoor pool, which is in a building New River identifies as the Student Activities Center. That entire building is being renovated, with a completion date of December anticipated, according to Roger Griffith, dean of the Greenbrier Valley campus.
It was not immediately clear what, if any, impact the commission’s refund request will have on the overall project.
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