POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Commission held its first meeting of the year on Monday, where commissioners approved to purchase some new ambulances and sheriff cruisers.
The commission held the organizational meeting on Monday afternoon where they were to select a new president and vice president and set the meetings for the year.
Commissioner Rick Handley, who was president in 2020, nominated Commissioner Sam Nibert as president for 2021. Nibert nominated Commissioner Tracy Doolittle as the vice president for the year. All nominations passed.
The commissioners set the last three Thursdays of each month as meeting dates. These dates can be moved or canceled if motioned by the commission. The meeting dates were set for the next three months as: Jan. 14 and Jan. 28, Feb. 4, Feb. 11, and Feb 23; and March 11, March 18 and March 25.
After the organizational business, the commission held a regular meeting with local officials.
Commissioners approved to purchase four new ambulances for $105,936 each, or a total of $423,744. The bids were collected by Dennis Zimmerman, director of the Office of Emergency Services (OES), and presented to the commissioners. Zimmerman said all four ambulances will fit in the budget with the levy money, which will start being collected in July for the next five years.
The commissioners also approved to purchase two new cruisers for the sheriff’s department. Sheriff Corey Miller was at the meeting to speak with commissioners, who discussed the need for cruisers at previous meetings. County Administrator John Gerlach said the prices he received for the Ford Interceptors was $33,250 per vehicle. Equipment, such as radios, for the cruisers will be an additional cost to the county.
Commissioners discussed the operations of the courthouse during the pandemic. Doolittle said many people have the misunderstanding that the courthouse is closed, however, that is not the case. Visitors are encouraged to call the office they need to visit before arriving at the courthouse. Visitors will be allowed in the courthouse after the guard calls the office to check the number of people at that time. There may be a wait time to enter into the building or office. Sheriff Miller said people can pay taxes or purchase a license at no appointment.
Commissioners approved new employees for the assessor’s office, prosecutor’s office and county clerk’s office.
The lease for the People’s Bank sign at the courthouse parking lot was approved by the commissioners for $800.
Zimmerman gave a report to commissioners stating that one full-time employee tested positive for COVID-19. The part-time employees, who were hired in December by the commissioners, would be able to fill the shifts needed.
Zimmerman also told the commission residents of the Town of Mason would be receiving mailers from the Mason Volunteer Fire Department asking for donations. The fire chief told Zimmerman the department was in a contract with a company to send the mailers before the levy passed and they were unable to break the contract.
In Sheriff Miller’s report to the commission, he said he hopes to decrease the jail bill by “revamping” the home confinement program. Miller also plans to “aggressively pursue” grants this year for the department. In the coming weeks, Miller said he will need to post a couple positions for new deputies.
County Clerk Diana Cromley told commissioners addition space is needed in her office, as well as for Assessor Aimee Duncan. Cromley said the election equipment and record storage are taking up too much room in the current spaces.
Gerlach said the pick-up truck for the dog warden and animal shelter are ready to be picked up. Commissioner Doolittle asked about the vehicle that was damaged. Gerlach said the dog warden was supposed to have estimates on the repair costs and he would check for an update.
The next Mason County Commission meeting is set for Jan. 14 at 4 p.m.
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Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.