The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

May 16, 2013

New River to wait for ruling on pool

By Tina Alvey
Register-Herald Reporter

LEWISBURG — Dr. L. Marshall Washington, president of New River Community and Technical College, issued a one-sentence response to reports of the Greenbrier County Commission’s request for a refund of the $1.3 million in hotel/motel tax funds given to the college’s Foundation last year.

Allocated for renovation of an indoor swimming pool located in the Student Activities Center on New River’s Greenbrier Valley Campus, the expenditure embroiled the commission in a legal dispute when local residents filed a lawsuit challenging the propriety of the funding.

That lawsuit appears to be near a resolution, with attorneys on both sides expected to file final briefs this week. Senior Status Judge Charles M. Vickers, who was appointed to hear the case, could issue a ruling by month’s end.

“We are waiting for the judge’s ruling, and then we will consider the Greenbrier County Commission’s request,” Washington said Wednesday.

The prepared, single-sentence statement, which was read by a New River spokeswoman, echoed remarks Washington made during a media event in Lewisburg earlier this week.

He said then he hoped all sides in the dispute could eventually agree on a solution, while noting, “We’re very excited about being able to partner with the county on the pool project.”

The refund request issued by the commission came at the end of an unusually long Tuesday night meeting, punctuated by two extended executive sessions.

Commission President Karen Lobban opposed the request, but Commissioners Woody Hanna and Michael McClung pushed the measure through, with Hanna explaining that the county will set up a “separate account” for the money until Vickers rules on the legality of spending the bed tax funds on the pool project.

Renovations of the 23,000 square-foot Student Activities Center building, which was formerly used by the Division of Highways as office space, are expected to be complete by December. In addition to the pool, the building will house faculty offices, classrooms, a cafe and the school’s fine arts program.

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