WILLIAMSON – In a special session held Wednesday morning, the Mingo County Commission approved a motion to cancel a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning the Twin Branch Motorsport drag strip project in an effort to simplify the process and allow the project to move forward.
According to elrobinsonengineering.com, the Twin Branch Motorsports Infrastructure Development project is a “55 acre site located approximately 15 miles north of Williamson and was at one time the location of a Massey Energy surface coal mine operation…”
The website also states that the facility will seat approximately 20,000 spectators and will include camping areas and parking. The website states that construction began on the project in 2006.
At the special session, Commissioner John Mark Hubbard opened the discussion stating, “We only have two items on our agenda for this meeting and the first item is the cancellation of the Twin Branch MOU that we signed back in June of 2015.”
Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith spoke next stating, “Mr. President, if I may provide background information for that. If the public will recall that was a MOU to be executed by the Mingo County Commission, the Logan County Commission, the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority(MCRA), the Logan County Redevelopment Authority (LCRA), the State Department of Highways (DOH), Consol, and Corridor G. “
Smith continued, explaining the reasoning behind the cancelation of the MOU. “The reason the MOU has to be cancelled is because even though it was signed by this body, the Logan County Commission, the LCRA, the MCRA, and Corridor G, it was not signed by the State DOH and Consol for some corporate legal reasoning.”
The cancellation of the MOU will not stop the project from moving forward. “That has not stopped the project from moving forward. Actually, the road has been transferred to the State DOH. That has been completed and that has completed the DOH portion of what that MOU had laid out,” Smith stated.
Smith then discussed Consol’s involvement with the project. “Consol has really gone above and beyond on making this project become a reality. In fact, after meeting with them the other day, they provided documentation where they have spent 2.2 million dollars to create this drag strip.” The documentation provided by Consol to commissioners was available at the special meeting and listed construction projects and associated costs by item, vendor and amount. The total cost listed on the Consol documentation is $2,552,087.
“The cancelation of this MOU is not indicative of the status of this project … We just need to do this as a housekeeping matter to not let that linger. I move that we void or resend the prior MOU that was signed by this commission on the grounds that it was not executed by all the parties that were affiliated with the MOU,” Smith explained.
Commissioner Diann Hannah seconded the motion and the motion was approved unanimously.
The commission then moved to the next item on the agenda concerning a financial contribution to the MCRA to be used in the Twin Branch Project.
Hubbard opened the discussion stating, “Let’s go on to item two on the agenda the financial contribution to the MCRA to this project. With that, I would entertain a motion.”
Smith responded stating, “Mr. President, this commission has allocated $300,000 for some time now. That has been designated to this project. This money is for economic development. This money cannot be used for salary, payroll, or any type of fringe benefits. It is limited only for economic development and has been designated by this commission. I move that we transfer that $300,000 to the MCRA for the further completion of the Twin Branch Drag Strip project.”
Hannah seconded the motion stating, “I second the move on the further addendum that this is not new money. This is money that has been designated in years past that has now been asked for the release of.”
Hubbard responded, “I also want to add that over the years that what we have done over the years as a commission is that we have been diligent in establishing and taking advantage of monies that were available to bring in for the development of Mingo County on economic issues. We have approximately one million dollars in that account. We are certainly not depleting that. We have monies in there that we could use for further development in the county.”
The motion was then approved unanimously and the meeting adjourned. The next regular meeting of the Mingo County Commission will be held Wednesday, April 6 at 9 a.m.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)