By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
The most recent gathering of the Tucker County Commission had a shorter agenda than usual. Reverend Smith of the Baptist Church opened the meeting with a prayer before reciting The Pledge of Allegiance. Commission President Lowell Moore called the meeting to order before Commissioners Jon Bush and Fred Davis approved the previous meeting minutes.
There were no guests present wishing to address the commissioners nor were there elected officials reports at this time. County Administrator Sheila DeVilder announced, “We were awarded the CFIA Grant, so we can get started on that as soon as we get the contract back.” This is a restoration grant that should be enough to complete the exterior bricks of the courthouse.
Brett Ware, 911 Director for Tucker County, provided 911 call statistics for the month of October. These detailed analyses are made possible by the recent phone upgrades made to the telecommunication center. “In October, we processed 339 911 calls, which is actually quite low for our call volume,” he began. The average ring to answer time is five seconds with the maximum ring to answer time being one minute nine seconds. “When you see numbers like that, that generally indicates that both dispatchers were processing 911 calls, generally it relates to car accidents, we get a lot of calls on the same car accident,” he explained. There were 20 hang ups which is down from an average of approximately 80. The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) suggests that 95% of all 911 calls should be answered within 10 seconds. “We are at 94.98%, I’m pushing for a goal of at least 98% within 10 seconds, but again, logistically speaking, it’s hard to do that when you’ve got two tele-communicators and four or five 911 lines ringing at the same time for a similar incident,” he explained. The average call duration two minutes and twenty one seconds, which Ware was quite pleased with due to the amount of information the dispatchers gather and share within that short timeframe.
Ware is still in contact with Motorola and awaiting a proposal for converting to a micro wave radio system, which he hopes to have within the next week. “We still experience radio outages every day, once or twice an hour, but they only last five to ten seconds,” he commented. Fortunately it hasn’t caused any issues with the first responders on call, but it is extremely frustrating and inconvenient for them. “Thankfully it worked flawlessly last night,” he continued informing no one was injured in the flash freezing and only minor vehicular damage was assessed. Around 7 p.m. that night, the 911 center processed nearly 40 calls within a half an hour. “It was a mess to say the least but we’re glad everyone’s OK,” Ware added. Moore thanked him for his dedication to the county and the work of his staff.
Kevin White, OEM Director, provided a report to the commissioners and stated they are still waiting on the paperwork for the grants for the Stop the Bleed school kits, the new truck, as well as the trailer. The reimbursement for the ZUMRO shelter is also being processed, with White stating, “Everything is in line for all the grants that were filed in the last three years actually.” OEM provided Active Shooter Training for Cortland Acres recently and he hopes to do more in the years to come. He noted that Canaan Valley Volunteer Fire Department has been overrun with lost hiker’s reports from the Dolly Sods area. He commended them on their successful retrievals of all involved. Parsons Volunteer Fire Department also experienced a few lost hiker calls in the Otter Creek area, with White stating, “One of those was a recovery unfortunately and the other was an air lift.”
White has also been working with the Division of Highways to ensure all signage is in place; however, one from Route 32 to Route 219 has been vandalized and removed with unknown replacement timeframes. He noted the importance of these signs that can be remotely programmed to spread warnings and notices to those traveling some of our mountain highways during inclement weather. He noted they worked the night before flawlessly informing trucks and trailers to secure chains before proceeding. He continued stating the signage for Leadmine Mountain is also in process as well as requests for additional warning signs for Sugarlands Road regarding larger vehicles, not just tractor trailers. These routes are being taken unintentionally due to GPS units taking them on the shortest route options not realizing they are not suitable for larger vehicles.
The stream cleanup project is still in the works, though White wanted to clarify “The only thing they’re going to come and do is remove debris.” “They’re not coming in and dredging or reinforcing banks,” he clarified. There will be no diversions or anything beyond removing blockages.
Davis briefly brought up a Smokey Bear Sign that was mentioned in a different meeting that he and White attended. He felt placing this signage on Route 48 would not be as beneficial as it would be somewhere near the new Emergency Services Facility in Davis. White agreed and will continue to be in contact with those who wish to place the sign if funding is available.
Before moving forward, Moore wanted to thank Joseph Strait and his work promoting the Stop the Bleed program. “I have been working with Davis Health Systems and Tiffany Auvil,” he added in order to get these kits for the schools. “Again thank you, Brett, Kevin, and everybody. Kevin uses Team and that’s what Tucker County is, a team,” stated Moore
Bailey Falls, Director of the Animal Shelter, was next to update the Commission on their status. “October was a really successful month for the shelter, we raised close to $2,000 based on adoption fees as well as donations from some of our events,” she began. During the past month, 35 animals have been transported to other rescue partners and 25 adoptions took place. A grant through the Tucker Community Foundation is in process to update the flooring in the feline intake facility as well as preparations for the West Virginia Spay and Neuter Grant.
County Planner Dennis Filler stated that 2019 brought 28 development permits which he expects to be slowing down now due to the season. The process of updating the phone system is set to begin next week which Filler expects to take approximately four days.
“We’ve had a successful litter control effort,” he noted with a complaint recently made, communications took place, and efforts were made to clean up the area. The final stages of the software for the online reporting tool are being addressed so individuals can electronically alert these issues to the proper authorities. Filler did note that you cannot make an anonymous complaint; you have to fill in all requested information to submit a litter concern.
A Census 2020 link has been added to the county website that will be used by the local census representative as a model for other counties. Filler also attended the state auditors training recently and has gone through the necessary refresher trainings.
There were no correspondences but were two applicants for the Ambulatory Board. Harold E. Spencer and Christopher Phares both wish to be appointed to the board, both being unanimously approved with Spencer serving a three year term and Phares a two year term.
Phares also wished to serve on the Development Authority with unanimous approval. County Clerk Sherry Simmons will be checking on the term.
Moving into new business, Moore read a portion of a statewide resolution proposed to all of the counties regarding the honoring of 911 tele-communicators. “Without them, our law enforcement, our EMS, nothing works,” Moore confirmed. He made a motion to sign this proclamation with Bush and Davis all in approval.
Judy Rodd was present as a member of Friends of Blackwater. She presented the commissioners with samples of signage that she and Robin McClintock have been working on establishing along the Rail Trail. There are a total of 11 signs across the two mile trail and was requesting a time to celebrate these signs where they could be showcased to individuals who may wish to see these works of art though may not be able to travel the Rail Trail. Due to insurance regulations within the courthouse, it is not possible to open the facility after hours.
The commissioners are fully in support of showcasing these works of art and are willing to work with Rodd to try and set up a display either during courthouse hours or at another facility of an evening. Bush even offered Piccolo Paula’s as a location to display them, which Rodd will be following up with McClintock on the possibilities.
There was one erroneous assessment that had been reviewed by Prosecuting Attorney Ray LaMora and approved by the commissioners. Payments were also evaluated and approved unanimously. Commissioner’s reports were the last items on the agenda with Moore noting there had been an issue between the horseback riding stables and Canaan Valley State Park and their permissibility to ride horses on the state park. The groups, along with Senator Smith and a few other individuals came together and a memorandum of understanding will be established. Horseback riding in the state park will be allowed to continue with designated trails being marked that are ten feet wide and maintained by the stables. Moore also wanted to announce that the annual Christmas Dinner at the Courthouse will have to be cancelled this year due to the courthouse restoration project. “We’re reluctant to do that but we have to,” allowed Moore.
Bush attended the most recent meeting for the Blueprint Community which he commented was an amazing organization. He announced an upcoming meeting Thursday from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Piccolo Paula’s. “A lot of good things are moving forward for the town in that respect,” he commented.
Davis announced that the meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with Solid Waste Authority has been postponed until December 9 at 3 p.m. at the Tucker County Landfill Office. This concluded the business for the Tucker County Commission for the month of November. There will only be one meeting in December as well, which is scheduled for Wednesday, December 18 at 9 a.m.