By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
As the Tucker County Commission Meeting started Reverend Brown spoke briefly about the tragedy of September 11, 2001 and asked for everyone to partake in a moment of silence followed by an opening prayer. Commission President Lowell Moore then called the meeting to order and approved the previous meeting minutes alongside Commissioners Jon Bush and Fred Davis.
Moore addressed the audience and guests first, with Attorney Hunter Mullens speaking first. He was present to discuss with the commissioners the opioid litigations which required an executive session. Upon return, Moore announced there were no decisions made. Carol Bush of the United States Census Bureau was also present for a signing of a resolution to form a complete count committee. “You should be really proud because you had a great turnout with a diverse group of people from the community,” Bush said.
Moving into the elected officials report, County Clerk Sherry Simmons read a short statement regarding September 11, 2001. “It’s so important to thank our first responders,” she said as she thanked those present in the crowd.
Employee’s reports followed beginning with Joe Long, Maintenance Director. He reported the dry system for the clock tower and court room floor to complete the sprinkler system in the court house. Long and his crew also went to Shepherd College and purchased 70, quality beds for the camp at a bargain price of approximately $5 per bed, totaling over 100 now available. Davis asked how the progress was on the maintenance garage and was informed it was going well with an upcoming electrical inspection to install electricity to the structure.
County Administrator Sheila DeVilder had a meeting with a risk control specialist regarding services offered to those insured with their company. It has been suggested to hold sexual harassment training within the county as well as consider cyber security and training. This specialist could also offer law enforcement training so the information has been shared with the Tucker County Sheriff’s Department.
Brett Ware, 911 Director took the floor next beginning with a follow up from last meeting regarding the issues with communications system. “Preliminary costs if we were to manage most of the implementation of the microwave system equipment would be right around $5000,” Ware explained, with additional associated costs through the Department of Homeland Security. He is continuing to research using vendors versus doing the conversion themself to find the pros and cons of each option. “It’s very simple to configure,” Ware explained, “Honestly if the equipment was up I’d have it configured in fifteen minutes.” A transition to this program would eliminate the need of Frontier Communications which should aid in the communication issues within the 911 and first responders. He also informed the life expectancy of this equipment is anywhere from ten to fifteen years and the backup generators can be utilized in the instance of a power outage.
Ware shifted gears stating individuals from Motorola flew in from Alabama recently to assist in the conversion of the phone system within the 911 center. The new system will go live next week. All dispatchers will receive training on the new system the day before it is to begin usage. “This is the next step in next generation 911,” Ware said. The goal is to be able to accept texts to 911 by the end of October. However, he noted it is always better to call if you can, only utilize texting to 911 when you cannot call.
OEM Director Kevin White offered a report to the commissioners to update them on the last few weeks’ events. He submitted a grant recently for a new command trailer and a truck to pull it with. Both grants were awarded, though they were a little shy of the requests so the remaining needed funds are being discussed. The award amounts totaled $15,000 for the trailer and $35,000 for the truck. The purpose of the trailer is to haul the new sheltering systems as well as the generators and HVAC systems.
Dennis Filler, County Planner addressed the commissioners stating that he and Moore recently met with Representative McKinley to discuss telecommunications, specifically problems with Frontier. A complaint form has been posted on the county website for citizens to file that will go directly to McKinley’s office. Corridor H was another topic discussed on his visit to the county as well was payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) and exploring the possibility of increasing those payments. Broadband was the last topic discussed regarding making it accessible to the rural residents such as those in our county. Filler said there has been 24 development permits to date within the county and announced that Saturday at noon will be the dedication of the new EMS facility.
There were no correspondence or road names to consider at this meeting, bringing the meeting into new business. A special meeting is to be scheduled with Mullens regarding the opioid lawsuit before moving further. An Atlantic Broadband Agreement was presented with Simmons informing after double checking all figures from a monetary perspective as well as the technicalities, “It will save us approximately $2,500 a month,” though beyond the contract limits that may change. Moore noted he believes everyone in the courthouse agrees this is needed; however there was some area of concern. He read a prepared statement agreeing it is a good idea to upgrade to an internet based system, though wants to ensure all entities are on board prior to entering into an agreement.
A resolution for the courthouse facilities grant was signed to finish the bricks and the outside of the courthouse. Once this project is complete, the old jailhouse is potentially to be restored as a historic building as well. It was requested by Riverview Church to use the parking garage for a trunk or treat event, which was also approved. A minor adjustment was made in the commissioner’s board designations, assigning Bush to the Heart of Highlands and Moore to the Historical Landmark Commission. Davis thanked the gentlemen for adjusting the schedules due to timing conflicts and these assignments will remain in effect until January of 2020. Erroneous assessments were approved by commission pending Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora’s approval.
Another executive session commenced to discuss 911 personnel. Upon return, it was agreed upon to move the part time position held by Gabrielle Schryver to a full time status.
Commissioner’s reports followed with Moore stating he will be attending the statewide economic development authority which will be held in Canaan Valley. He noted the EMS bills have not yet been sent out to the citizens and made it known they will not be due any earlier than November 1. These bills will review the last three years, which has resulted in the delay of mailing.
Davis announced that they have recently fixed 350 feet of underground water line in Thomas serving to the community of Douglas, which was followed by another 100 feet needing replaced. The leak was found to be under the river water and the repairs have resulted in a decrease of water usage to 60,000 gallons per day from 100,000 gallons per day. He also said the mining classes he helped orchestrate resulted in several local young adults securing jobs after 24 students passed the course. The CDL class was also a huge success with a few graduates receiving state jobs soon after graduation. Davis plans to continue setting up these classes to assist in locals becoming certified and obtaining local jobs.
Bush did not have anything to report on at this time. The next meeting is slated to for Wednesday, September 25 at 4 p.m. This will be held at the Tucker County Courthouse Courtroom and as always, all public are welcome to attend.