By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Commission President Lowell Moore called the teleconference meeting to order. The minutes from the previous meeting were approved before asking James Snyder from the Tucker County Health Department to provide a Coronavirus update.
Snyder began with statistics that were current at that time, which were 412 positive cases throughout the state with four dates. As for Tucker County, there have been 30 individuals tested that met the criteria with three positive cases and 22 negative and the remainder awaiting results. Snyder did explain there are tests that now provide near immediate results; unfortunately, those have been having reliability issues. Fortunately results have been being determined in a much timelier fashion than previously. “We are very blessed and fortunate in Tucker County, my belief is and I’m sure that everybody that has met criteria that I’m aware of has been tested up until this point, so that is very, very important.”
Sndyer stated he has read and heard how well Tucker County and the entire state has done with minimizing this outbreak as compared to others, which he agrees that is a positive thing. “But we can’t let up now, we need to continue to do that (social distancing) and the next few weeks are going to be really crucial that we continue to follow these practices.” Though statistics show the state may “beat” the peak in the next couple weeks or by around the first of May, Snyder explained that does not mean there won’t continue to be positive cases and that the guard can be let down, “we’re going to have to be cautious.” He continued, “We need to really bear down the next couple weeks and keep doing the social distancing things we’ve been doing, we can stay apart as much as we can.” “A lot of people will get a false sense of security when we hear 10 or less, but we can have problems with five,” Snyder added. Mingling between households and at stores should not occur and outings should be done only when necessary outside of the essential employees. “We need to almost treat everybody like they are positive, keep our social distancing while we’re out, wear our masks, and hand washing.” These simple proactive elements can save lives.
The weekly meetings amongst stakeholders hosted by the OEM department has addressed some concerns and is assisting in making information clear, such as if you are out of state and return to the area, you must self quarantine for 14 days. Issues have also arisen with locals confronting individuals from out of state. “We need to be really careful about that because if they do engage with someone, they’re actually putting themselves at risk to exposure or possibly other injury,” said Snyder. It is recommended if anyone feels uneasy about an individual failing to abide by Governor Justice’s order, they should contact Law Enforcement immediately.
As difficult as it is, families need to stay within their own homes and eliminate the risk of exposure and spreading. “We just need to be wise today and the days ahead,” Snyder said. He continued with thanking the first responders, law enforcements, the health facilities, and all of those involved with fighting this pandemic.
Kevin White, OEM Director, reiterated some key points. He stated that PPE (personal protective equipment) have been issued to all first responders and weekly and sometimes daily conference calls are being partaken in to keep everyone informed. Moore thanked both Snyder and White for their dedication to keeping the county informed and safe.
Mark Holstine, acting chairman of the Tucker County Solid Waste Authority, was also on the line and told the Commissioners he feels positive about the potential release of the funds from the Public Service Commission. This will assist the Tucker County Landfill moving forward and securing the livelihood of the facility.
Steve Leyh with the Tucker County Development Authority gave an update relating to options and resources available for businesses in the county affected by COVID-19. This information will be provided in an additional article.
Director of the Tucker County Animal Shelter Bailey Falls spoke on behalf of the shelter. “In order to safe guard our staff, volunteers, and community, our shelter is closed to the public until further notice,” began Falls. Fostering and adoption opportunities are still being facilitated as well as intakes and emergencies via appointment. Unfortunately, the veterinarians cannot perform spay and neuter procedures for the shelters due to the pandemic due to the lack of PPE equipment, which puts a hold on the capture, alter, and release program. “So we just ask that the community bear with us because we’re not able to have any surgeries completed at this time,” she stated. It is expected to encounter an increase in intakes in the next few months, especially that of kittens, due to the inability to perform the spay and neuters which has lead to constant contact between Falls and rescue partners to in attempt to ensure placement of these animals.
Due to the economic impact of the Coronavirus, the shelter is offering limited quantities of cat and dog food for anyone in need. “We have a large donation of cat and dog food that we are happy to donate to anyone in need.” You can contact the shelter at www.TCAnimalShelter.org or by phone at 304-642-6509. “Our goal at this time is to help people keep their animals safe and fed during this time,” Falls stated.
With the facility closed at this time, the facility is being thoroughly cleaned and repairs are being made as needed, as well as a website update. “We at the shelter are prepared to assist pet owners during this time,” she continued. Due to a large population of individuals staying home, there has been a national increase in the willingness to foster shelter pets. If anyone is interested in doing such, they can reach out to the shelter for more information.
Sheila DeVilder, County Administrator briefed the commissioners that she is in the process of applying for a court security fund grant. The current annex security operates off from a significantly outdated program that is subject to failure.
County Planner Dennis Filler said, “So on the 2020 census, right now Tucker’s response rate is only 19%, and the national average is 45%.” He feels part of the issue is a vast amount of residents utilize post office boxes versus a physical address. Any resident within the county can use a smart phone or a computer and log on to www.My2020Census.gov and choose the option “I do not have a census ID” which will allow the completion of the census. “Being undercounted is to our deficit,” Filler suggested. The Atlantic Broadband upgrade throughout the county has continued with a projected install date of May 16. Filler has continued to distribute development permits which indicate construction has continued within the county.
The courthouse remains on lockdown; however, staff is still present and can be reached via phone or email. There was an application for Tom Plaugher to serve on the Mountaineer Trail Authority, which passed unanimously and one vacancy remaining. One erroneous assessment was reviewed with approval as well as the payments as presented.
Commissioner reports consisted of Moore noting he forgot to mention the total of the proposed budget which was in the estimated amount of $5,202,573. He also thanked everyone again on their contribution and cooperation during this trying time and request everyone abide by the recommendations and stay safe. Commissioner Jon Bush took a moment to thank White and Snyder for the continual updates being provided relating to COVID-19. “I want to thank everyone and the first responders, the medical personnel, and those who are out working right now making it possible for those who are quarantined to have some normalcy,” he concluded. Commissioner Fred Davis began by thanking the same individuals, but also stated, “When you come through Thomas on Spruce Street, the one way by the Senior Center, there is a lot of out of state vehicles parked there. I just want people to know most of those vehicles are nurses that come in here, they’re travelling nurses that are working in our nursing home.”
The next County Commission meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 21 at 9 a.m. It is required to hold a meeting on this date in regards to set the county levy rate.