Commissioners Urge Residents to Complete 2020 Census

By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Commissioners Jon Bush and Fred Davis held the meeting Tuesday, April 21 at 9 a.m. via teleconference, limited in person, and broadcasted on Facebook Live.  Reverend Kevin Keplinger opened the meeting with a prayer followed by The Pledge of Allegiance.
The minutes from the previous meeting were approved before hearing a COVID-19 updates from James Snyder with the Tucker County Health Department.  “Where we’re at right now in our county is we’ve tested 58 of our residents and 49 of those came back negative with only four positives, so those numbers are very good,” he began.  “We’re awaiting some test results to come in, hopefully we get some more back today and tomorrow,” he added.  There are over 22,000 residents throughout the state who have been tested with 908 positive as of 5 p.m. Monday night.  “One thing is you look at all our numbers and we are doing well as a county, we’re doing well as a state, but I just want to warn everybody that we’re not done yet,” said Snyder.  “COVID is still out there, we’ve got to continue doing what we’ve been doing.”  He reiterated that it’s even more crucial in the upcoming weeks where what is being referred to as Phase Two begins, where the Governor starts allowing the reopening of some businesses.  Social distancing and proper hygiene still needs to be at the forefront of efforts to continue down the right path to eliminate the spread of this virus.
Though it is not yet a law in W.Va., everyone should be wearing a mask in public.  “If we wear our masks, we protect not only ourselves, but we protect everybody around us,” Snyder said.  Being a new disease, few facts are known and as more is discovered, it has become evident that some individuals can have Coronavirus yet show no symptoms.  This is where a face mask can help protect the spread of a disease unknown to be had.  Information on how to make face masks can be found numerous places online and some locations are giving them away to help prevent the spread.
“There’s a new rule that came out on Friday for the essential businesses that are open,” Snyder continued which is permitting less individuals in a facility at the same time.  “Our businesses are working hard to do that,” he said.  “We need to, as citizens, we need to help them out too and not push them on those numbers.”  Information is posted on facility doors as to how many are permitted at one time which needs to be adhered to for everyone’s safety and protection.  “Also on Friday, the Governor came out and made an executive order that we were going to test every resident and every employee of every nursing home in the state of West Virginia,” he also announced.  This is approximately 28,000 tests that will be administered statewide which Governor Justice hopes to have done by the end of the week.  “We’ve been working with Cortland Acres every day since that came out,” Snyder continued as plans are in the work to make this happen.  If the tests are provided in a timely fashion by the state, Snyder believes this could happen in the preferred timeframe; however, it depends on when the tests are received.  In conclusion, Snyder thanked everyone for the cooperation and support during this trying time and urge residents to visit www.CDC.gov, www.TuckerHealthWV.com, or call the Health Department at 304-478-3572 for more information.
Kevin White, Director of OEM took the floor next stating that his office has been providing PPE equipment for first responders and healthcare providers as well as placing requests with the state when in need.  “We will be doing this on a bi-weekly basis going forward to the state, so every two weeks we will have a new shipment coming in to the responders or the healthcare providers,” stated White.  “One of the things the state has initiated too, along with this, is now they’re doing a sterilization program of the PPE,” he continued.  Masks, gowns, and other qualified products can now be collected and sent to Charleston via National Guard where the products will be ran through a sterilization process and that equipment will then be put back into service.  Careful attention will be made to the equipment as it can only be sterilized and reused so many times before the items need to be disposed of.
White announced that the National Guard will be delivering meals to the local food banks this week or next, “I think we’re getting around 1,000 meals to be put up between the two food banks.”  This should provide supplies for approximately a month to assist those in need during this trying time.  White noted that in the weekly meeting that was held last night, it was mentioned how the schools are continuing to provide meals to their students weekly.  Assisting in those efforts in addition to the school staff are volunteers, the Family Resource Center, Digger Adventures, and Canaan Valley Resort.  A delivery service is now being offered to help those having difficulties getting to their designated pick up location and anyone wishing to do so should contact the Board of Education.  White asked that those who are capable of picking up their meals to continue to do so to not further the strain being put on those trying to help.
“This is far from over,” continued White.  “I think we do see from time to time people getting a little bit complacent, please don’t do that,” he asked.  “Another thing we initiated this last week since our last meeting is, if we do, God forbid, for some reason a responder gets contaminated, we have offered a facility if a responder gets contaminated to be quarantined in so they don’t take this home to their family,” White explained.  They can stay in this location until their test results return and they feel it is safe to return home.
White continued with his employee report so he could excuse himself to attend another meeting.  The new truck and trailer purchased mostly by a grant has not yet been delivered due to the company constructing these trailers shifting their focus on emergency units due to the pandemic. Additional grants have been filed for new EOC equipment and an emergency plan update, both of which are also on hold at the state level.  Davis thanked White and Snyder, as well as all those involved, in their work towards keeping the residents of Tucker County safe and informed during this crisis.
Sheila DeVilder, County Administrator, stating, “The court security fund is ready to go out.”  The courthouse facility grant to finish the brick restoration has been put on hold until individuals can visit the facility to begin the bidding process.
County Planner Dennis Filler took the floor, stating, “The biggest thing for us is census right now.”  “I encourage everyone to go to My2020Census.gov and complete the online census,” he continued.  “For every individual that is counted in the census, it’s worth $20,000 for the next 10 year period,” he explained.  “That’s what we lose by not being counted,” Filler continued.  Even without a census ID received in the mail, you can go online and complete the census by choosing the option stating no ID available.
Bush moved onto new business where he and Davis approved the proposed levy rate that is set by the state.  He then read a resolution to authorize Lowell Moore to enter into a contractual agreement with the court security fund program, which was also approved.  There were no erroneous assessments which lead to the commissioners approving the payments as presented.
Commissioner reports began with Davis encouraging all residents to complete the census.  “It doesn’t cost you anything, it gives money back to our county,” he reiterated.  “Our percentage isn’t very good right now coming in, so we need to get this taken care of.”  Davis stated if anyone had any questions or issues, he encourages them to reach out to Filler or someone at the courthouse for assistance.  Bush agreed saying how simple the process is.  “I’ve never seen a simpler, shorter form of the census and I’ve done a couple of them over the years,” he added.  “Other than that, I’ve just been really impressed with the effort over this COVID-19, even those staying home and doing what they need to do, they’re part of the solution,” said Bush.
This concluded the Tucker County Commission meetings for the month of April with the next being scheduled for Wednesday, May 13 at 9 a.m.

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