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Commission discusses possibility of forming an ambulance board

By Staff | Nov 20, 2013

Tyler County Courthouse

Katy Wells of Middlebourne EMS was present at the Nov. 12 Tyler County Commission meeting to discuss the potential formation of an Ambulance Advisory Board.

Wells said the county commission is in charge of making sure it has an ambulance service available and any authority would answer to the commission.

“The reason I suggested the commission look into an advisory board was to protect the county fiscally,” said Tyler County Prosecuting Attorney Luke Furbee. “If the ambulance service is delivered through an ambulance authority established by statute, the county is no longer liable for things that happen with the services.”

“If something happens, it’s still the county,” she said. “We’re under your Board of Risk, on the same insurance policy.”

“My job is to suggest alternatives,” said Furbee, stating that the commission would be responsible for making any decisions.

“Whatever it would take to make things simpler,” said Wells, expressing that she was not against a board if the commission thought it would help.

“We’re just looking for ways to make things work better,” said Furbee. “As far as the actual operation of the squad, no one is interested in telling you what to do. The law says that the county commission’s obligation is to make sure there are emergency services provided in the county, however they choose to do it, or they can designate other people to do it. We’re just looking into it. No one wants to tell you how to run your emergency squads.”

Commissioner Charles “Pork” Smith said the commission has heard only good things about the service provided by Middlebourne EMS and the commission’s intent is not to take it over, but to make things between the county and ambulance services continue to run smoothly in the future.

In another matter, Furbee reported that the Public Service Commission (PSC) is planning to hold a hearing at the courthouse in January for the purpose of revoking the service franchise of the Middlebourne Cable Company.

Furbee explained that around 1993 the commission had given franchise rights to the Middlebourne Cable Company. The lawsuit is to recoup franchise fees paid by the city, as well as to have the company detach their equipment.

Middlebourne City Attorney Gary Rymer has reportedly informed Furbee that the city is behind the PSC in a lawsuit against the company. The commission tabled the subject and will review its position on this matter to determine if it is beneficial to get involved.

Commissioner Smith said he could not see any reason to get involved.

In other news, the commission approved a motion to assist the repairs on the main building at the 4-H Campgrounds.

“They have a $2,000 grant that needs spent,” said Commission President John Stender. “They already talked to the electric company. They’re going to put a new transformer in there. They want to put in new boxes and rewire the whole main building.”

He said he yet to receive a total on parts, but the whole thing would be about $5,000. The work would preferably be done in winter, when the building would be shut down.

Due to possible conflicts of interest with the prosecutor’s office, the commission approved outside legal counsel for the County Clerk’s Office regarding the Norman Todd Estate. Attorney Dean Rohrig will represent them on this matter.

Tom Cooper, director of the Office of Emergency Management, reported that West Virginia Homeland Security wants members of their emergency preparedness groups to teach some classes for them. He said the state had grants available to cover the costs of those classes.

Deputy Clerk Sarah Smith and Data Collector Patty Weekley addressed the condition of (window) blinds in the courthouse. They suggested purchasing new blinds and sticking to a six-month cleaning schedule to preserve their good condition. The commission approved them to obtain quotes.

Under Commissioner Smith’s report, he discussed the possibility of the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) attaining additional grant funding for mitigation purposes. If attained, that funding may go toward purchasing generators for LEPC projects.

Under Commission Vice President Eric Vincent’s report, he informed the commission that West Virginia University is wanting the county and other agencies to pay 100 percent of funding for the secretary position at the extension office.

“That will come at a later date when budgeting is figured out,” he said.

The commission also approved: the assessor’s exonerations, the clerk’s fiduciary report, minutes of the Oct. 22 meeting, a budget revision in the Circuit Clerk’s Office, and the paying of bills.

The commission will meet next on Nov. 26 at 9 a.m. in the Tyler County Courthouse. The courthouse will be closed Thanksgiving Day and the following day.