Once again, the Tucker County Commission opened their regular meeting on September 25 with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Rev. Phil Dent prefaced his opening prayer with a short comment praising the commission for allowing this beginning to their meetings. He stated that with Christians being persecuted around the country, he wanted to thank the commission for their part in allowing prayer and that prayer had been held that morning at TCHS.
Speaking as a member of the audience, not a part of the agenda, Bobby Phillips, representing the ambulance authority wanted to again make the commission aware of the need for funding. He stated that the $20,000 the commission had given them for the additional crew on the mountain would be depleted next month.
Commissioner Mike Rosenau stated, “We gave you $40,000.” To which Phillips replied, “True, but $20,000 of that was for pay raises for employees.”
Phillips went on to state that the $20,000 for the crew on the mountain was to help until the consultant made his recommendations, and this has not yet been done. Phillips said, “Once Corridor H is completed, we will need coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the mountain.” He went on to say that hiring is difficult because of the sub-standard pay they are able to offer. Phillips explained that approximately 75 percent of their budget goes to salaries and they are being mandated to place some new equipment in their vehicles.
Commissioner Diane Hinkle asked, “What do you hear from Canaan Valley and Timberline? It was my understanding that you were close to a deal.”
Phillips replied, “I haven’t heard anything at this time and from what I read in the Charleston Gazette they are going to be about $3 million short themselves this year.”
Hinkle then asked, “What’s the dollar amount you need to fund an additional crew on the mountain?’
Phillips stated that they would probably need an addition $60,000.”
The commissioners asked Mr. Phillips to please fill out a funding request form and present it to the commission as this gives them time to evaluate it and make an informed decision. Phillips stated that the authority would do this and thanked the commission.
In employee reports, Commissioner Lowell Moore gave a report from the Tucker County Animal Control. Moore stated that in the past 30 days that they had taken in 55 cats and sent out 55 cats, also they had taken in 20 dogs and 16 have gone out. He went on to say that a rescue was coming in this week and would take additional six – eight dogs and possibly some cats.
Joel Goughnour stated that the county had received a reimbursement check in the amount of $94,000. This re-imbursement came from an 80% courthouse restoration grant that the county received.
Commissioner Rosenau at this time stated, “We are holding an Open House for the annex on October 24 at 1 p.m.
The commission received a letter from Dave Kyle informing them of his intent to retire Dec. 31 of this year after 24 years of service to the county. He asked that they hire someone in time for him to properly train them and thanked the commission and his fellow employees. The commissioner voted to accept his retirement with regret.
The commission tabled the equipment request from the animal shelter pending more information.
Commissioner Moore made a motion to have the Senior Citizen’s lot and the employee parking lot paved under a DOH state contract, which will save the county money. All were in agreement.
After returning from executive session to discuss personnel matters, the commission let it be known that nothing had been decided.
Commission Hinkle stated, “We have narrowed the part-time custodian candidate down to a short list of two and I would like to make a motion to approve the selection as discussed pending their acceptance and the candidate will be announced at the next meeting.” The other commissioners voted in agreement with her.
Hinkle went on to clarify other matters discussed in executive session. “The second topic of discussion was the hiring of someone to make an assessment of the Tucker County Ambulance Authority,” stated Hinkle. Hinkle added that the commission had interviewed two candidates extensively and have still not settled on either one.
Hinkle explained, “We know how important this is and we feel like for this to be successful it has to be someone who is going to work to both of our advantages, and we’re not there yet. It’s not that we’re trying to slow this process down, we’re just still searching for the right person. So, there’s no action in that direction yet.”
The commission agreed to hire Bill Dilly for another month as clerk of the works.
Commissioner Hinkle reported on the first Community Session that was held in Davis. She stated that not many were in attendance and that the commission hoped to publicize the next one more widely. The session was an hour long and it was stated up front that no decisions would be made. “It was just an information sharing session,” stated Hinkle. “We talked about what commissioners can and can’t do, as many people don’t understand our roles. We talked about the responsibilities of authority boards versus advisory boards. We each reported on facilities, finances, and personnel. It was good.”
Commissioner Rosenau added, “We just sat around in a circle and had a nice conversation.”
Hinkle said, “I think that those in attendance felt like they had learned a lot.”
Commissioner Lowell Moore agreed that it was a success.
The commission hopes to hold another session in October, and continue holding them at various locations around the county weather permitting.
The next meeting of the Tucker County Commission will be Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 9 a.m. in the Tucker County Courthouse Courtroom.