POINT PLEASANT — This week’s Mason County Commission meeting included comments from a resident asking about storm preparedness in the future - particularly when communication is hindered as a result of Mother Nature.
Steve Halstead, who is from New Haven, and has recently lived in Houston, Texas, asked Commissioners Rick Handley and Bob Baird to consider different options regarding an emergency plan at the local level. Halstead suggested printing a publication of the plan, particularly of emergency shelter locations should another catastrophic event occur. Halstead suggested other ideas he has observed in the Houston area when severe weather descended upon that city.
Handley suggested Halstead attend an upcoming meeting of the Mason County Local Emergency Planning Committee at 10 a.m., July 25 at the Mason County 911 Center where the storm will be discussed. Handley also noted a letter the commission had received from Point Pleasant Mayor Brian Billings about the problem of communication during the storm - particularly how to get the word out about the emergency shelter set up at Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School.
Jimmie Wood, Jr., who was also at the commission meeting, brought up another problem when discussing hearing a story about a predatory contractor quoting a senior citizen a price to remove a tree. Seniors, and other homeowners, are asked to be careful as to who they hire to help with debris removal and get price quotes from others.
The Mason County Commission commended first responders, EMS workers, law enforcement and utility companies for helping the county make it through the storm. Handley said during the storm he heard a lot of stories of “neighbors helping neighbors.”
In other Commission business:
Commissioners approved rehiring Ronnie Spencer in the Mason County Sheriff’s Department to be a prevention resource officer in one of the three county high schools. Sheriff Michael Roach said his department was required to provide four resource officers total to Mason County Schools - one each at Wahama and Hannan High Schools and two at PPJ/SHS. County Administrator John Gerlach asked Roach and Chief Deputy Jeff Fields to find out when the Mason County Board of Education was last billed for this service.
Commissioners approved the purchase of new radios for every car and every deputy due to mandated changes from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concerning the use of certain radio frequencies. Basically, the changes will affect how many watts will be available for radio use and many law enforcement agencies as well as other first responders are switching to newer, digital radios. Without the new radios, communication at the sheriff’s department would be severely hindered. The sheriff’s department will need the new radios by September.
The total cost for the new radios is $165,055.18 with Miller Communications of Parkersburg providing the quote. The radios will be paid for by pulling $25,000 from four county funds and financing the remainder of the cost. This means the county will have a payment of around $1,900 a month for three years.
Commissioners approved extending a lease to Peoples Bank in regards to space it leases to the company in the county parking lot to display the bank’s sign. This lease is for $600 per year.
Commissioners discussed the engineering contract to renovate the old Point Pleasant Hardware building though no new decisions were made. This will likely come up at the next commission meeting.
Commissioners accepted a Federal Aviation Administration grant for $96,482.00 to do repairs at the Mason County Airport.
Commissioners accepted a West Virgina Department of Environmental Protection litter control grant received by Mason County Day Report for $2,000.
Gerlach reported progress was being made on repairing the roof at the fairgrounds - this work has been ongoing and was not storm related. However, Gerlach said county buildings that were damaged during the storm included the Gene Salem Senior Center and the poultry barn at the fairgrounds.
A letter of thanks was sent to the commission from the New Haven Pool in regards to its annual donation to the facility. The commission also made funds available to Harmon Park Pool.
Commissioners Rick Handley and Bob Baird were present for this week’s meeting.