POINT PLEASANT — A representative with the office of the West Virginia State Fire Marshal has declared the two fire escapes on the sides of the Mason County Courthouse as “perfectly acceptable” in light of new security measures at the building, according to County Administrator John Gerlach.
Gerlach spoke to the Mason County Commission about this issue at Thursday’s regular commission meeting.
At the previous county commission meeting, Gerlach was asked to contact the state fire marshal’s office to inspect the building and determine if there were an adequate amount of exits at the courthouse given the new security measures. Visitors to the courthouse can now only enter and exit through the first floor entrance, which is handicapped accessible. Doors facing Sixth St. and the parking lot are now locked as part of tightening security at the building.
Employees have expressed concerns about not having adequate escape routes in the event of a fire or having crash bars on the set of doors facing Sixth St. and the parking lot which would allow them to exit the locked doors without a key. Gerlach said the representative from the fire marshal’s office stated these sets of doors didn’t require crash bars because they were not approved fire escapes. Gerlach also said several glow-in-the-dark signs have went up in the courthouse, directing employees and visitors to the fire escapes in the event of an emergency.
Sheriff Greg Powers was also present at the meeting to present to the commission prospective hires for his department. After an executive session to discuss personnel matters, namely, the hiring of potential candidates, the meeting adjourned back into regular session. Once in regular session, commissioners approved hiring former Prevention Resource Officer Ron Smith upon his reinstatement by the County Civil Service Commission. Upon this reinstatement, Smith will be posted at Point Pleasant High School.
Commissioners also transferred Amos Whittington from being a process server with the department to working in the home confinement office. Also approved, hiring William Hysell to replace Whittington as a process server. Jeremy Black was also approved as a probationary, entry-level deputy. Black must complete training at the police academy.
Powers said his goal was to turn over courthouse security to personnel in the home confinement office. These personnel have arrest powers on courthouse property and can carry a weapon if qualified.
Commissioners approved the purchase of a new maintenance truck. The estimate to fix the old truck with over 160,000 miles on it that at this point only drives in reverse, is $3,000. The commission moved forward with searching for new trucks at the state bid price. The commission first attempted to purchase the truck locally if local dealerships could meet the state bid price but that didn’t happen. Instead, the truck will be purchased from Thornhill Ford in Champmanville which met the price of the new four wheel drive F-250 for $21,363.38.
Also attending Thursday’s meeting was Scott Cadle, West Virginia House of Delegates 13th District, and Anna Marie Butler, wife of Jim Butler, West Virginia House of Delegates 14th District. Butler said she attended on behalf of her husband who was attending the Mason County Board of Education meeting going on at the same time. Both Cadle and Butler said they wanted to touch base with the county commission about the needs of the county before the legislative session starts on Feb. 13. Gerlach and Commission President Rick Handley said the commission would draft a letter to both delegates to list some of the county’s needs.
Commissioners plan to honor the State Class Single A Football Champion Wahama White Falcons during halftime at a WHS basketball game on Feb. 15.
Present at the meeting were Commissioners Handley, Miles Epling and Tracy Doolittle.