LEWISBURG, W.Va. — A standoff focused on a swimming pool project in Greenbrier County continues and the county’s budget is in the balance.

“There’s a lot at stake and both sides are firmly entrenched in their positions,” said Christian Giggenbach, a reporter for “The West Virginia Daily News,” who has followed the ongoing dispute between New River Community and Technical College and the Greenbrier County Commission closely.

Last December, in one of the last actions from former Commissioner Betty Crookshanks, the commission voted 2-1 to allocate $1.3 million in hotel-motel tax money to New River Community and Technical College for renovation work to a swimming pool, also called an “aquatic center.”

The Greenbrier County Commission had entered into a lease with New River for the project, located at New River’s Greenbrier Valley campus in Lewisburg, in 2010.

A lawsuit was filed challenging the source of that funding.  In June, Special Judge Charles Vickers ruled the allocations were illegal.

However, “The Judge Vickers’ ruling did not say that the college had to give the money back.  It just said there was an inappropriate allocation of the funds,” noted Giggenbach.

The question since then has focused on whether New River can be forced to return the money because of its source and improper method of allocation.

So far, New River has given back $300,000, but is calling for negotiations on the remaining $1 million because of concerns about other potential legal action if the swimming pool project does not happen.

Greenbrier County commissioners, including a new commissioner who took office after the pool project was approved last year, said the county could go bankrupt without the $1 million that came out of the wrong account because the county does not have the money to replace it.

The state Attorney General’s Office is representing New River and Greenbrier County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Via is serving as counsel for the Greenbrier County Commission, meaning the dispute is being the county and the state.

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  • tater

    The community college should give the money back without further delay. To do otherwise will only foster ill will toward the college from Greenbrier county citizens. Commissioner Lobban says that she would be willing to let them keep as much as $400,000.............how generous of her. All these "executive sessions", held behind closed doors, are troubling. The more of the county's business that is conducted openly, the better I like it.

  • ExaltedRuler

    If actions were illegal why aren't the commissioners prosecuted?

  • Lowlander

    Two crooked commissioners voted for a pool; the other skated on a felony charge. One was voted out, I'd say within 4 years the other two can find new gainful employment...

  • blesswv

    What other misuse of county funds have occurred? MAKES one wonder.

  • Harlowe

    why not have the two commissioners, that illegally gave the money to New River, pay it back.....They both knew that this was illegal.....come on.....if not, they had no business having the jobs they had.......both can afford to pay it back themselves.....

  • Wirerowe

    Part of the answer depends on what the community college did with the money. The contract was for improvements to the pool. If the college did not spend the money on the improvements then they should give every cent back. There is nothing to negotiate.

  • outsider

    Let's not forget, it was the county commission that approached the college to lease the property and offered them the money to build the pool. Just because an election happened, you cannot go back on a contract or a lease from the previous commissioners. It was the county commissioners who took the money out of the wrong account........

    • Jim Richmond

      Then make the commissioners put it back.