Commission Begins New Year with Old Problems

Paying for Ambulance Services Tops the Agenda

By Lon Anderson

It may be a new year, but for the Hardy County Commission, there was nothing new about the concerns that dominated their attention at their first monthly meeting of 2020 held on Tuesday, Jan. 7. Even the Commission President that they voted in unanimously for 2020 was the same person who served in that office in 2019, Harold Michael.

The two over-riding and nagging concerns that continued to dominate their discussions and actions both involved emergency ambulance services in the County. One concerned how best to raise the money to provide the services, and the other with how best to collect and process the money.

Concerning raising the money, the Commission voted unanimously, after some debate, to put a referendum question on the ballot for voters concerning “an Excess Levy for Ambulance Service in Hardy County.” Although it was called a “Special Election,” County Clerk Gregg Ely explained that this was the technical name for the question even though a special election would not be required, and the question would just be added as a separate item to the ballot in the upcoming May primary election.

Currently the Hardy County Emergency Ambulance Authority (HCEAA), which provides the ambulance service, is funded by a special fee which, according to Ely, can be raised or lowered at any time by the Commission, and must be collected separately from

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“I don’t think we want to omit that,” Michael responded, and asked if Steve Weese, a local master electrician, had reviewed this, and there was agreement that he should review the proposal before proceeding.

Sheriff Ward noted that that company does all of his work and is “pretty solid.”

Workman made a motion to approve the bid for the generator, along with a review to implement cost savings as possible. The motion passed unanimously.

Refugee Placement

The Commission also received a short presentation from Elizabeth Ramsey of the local Catholic Charities about their work to assist immigrants settling in West Virginia and Hardy County, along with a request for a letter of support from the Commission for this effort.

Ramsey explained that they provide necessary resettlement services and support by teaching refugees things to help create self-sufficiency.

“Our arrivals are very small,“ Ramsey noted. “Our program is vitally important. Without this support, the immigrants can’t be successfully relocated.”

The Commissioners approved a motion to provide a letter of support. “We’ll get it done,” Michael assured Ramsey.

CERT Volunteer Insurance

On another business item, Michael questioned Helmick about a proposal for liability insurance to protect CERT volunteers. “Is this to protect us or them?” he asked. “The question is are we covered under out existing liability policy (for their actions) and the second question is do we want to protect them (the CERT Volunteers)?”

“We are asked to call out the CERTs to participate in disaster exercises,” Fran Welton responded. “I encourage them to get their own (liability) coverage.”

“But we want to make sure the taxpayers are also covered,” Michael said. Helmick agreed to investigate further.

Other

The Commissioners also agreed to approve an application for $45,000 to the USDA to provide some supporting equipment to the County Fire Departments.

County Clerk Ely also asked the Commission to reaffirm its policy on physical security of the County’s election equipment, which the Commissioners did on an unanimous vote and also approved an emergency absentee voting policy proposed by Ely.