The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

May 3, 2013

Fayette commission works with emergency alert system

By C.V. Moore
Register-Herald Reporter

FAYETTEVILLE — Fayette County residents can now sign up for a free alert system that will notify them of public safety and community information during emergencies.

Anyone can sign up to receive instant alerts of county emergencies by text message, e-mail or the web.

The county will disburse information on everything from minor situations, like traffic accidents, to major storm warnings. Or during power outages, for example, the county could send out announcements about relief shelters and the availability of food stations.

“I think this will be a huge benefit for the entire county moving forward,” said Shawn Wolford, county director of Emergency Management Services. “We’ll be able to get information out to the people in a quick and timely manner.”

The service is offered free to the county by a private company, Nixle. To sign up, visit nixle.com or text your zip code to 888777 to enroll instantly.

Work on the county’s new 911 center is still moving forward, with an estimated move-in date for the second week in June, Wolford reported at a county commission meeting on Friday.

Commission President Matthew Wender also took up the issue of ambulance coverage for the county’s more remote regions with Wolford, asking him to make an assessment of the minimum level of coverage needed to serve all residents.

The county may consider offering up a contract to bid out the ambulance service in the future, to ensure continuity of coverage.

When New Haven residents raised concerns that their rural area is not covered sufficiently, Jan-Care responded by stationing an ambulance at Danese at a $5,000-$8,000 per month loss to the company.

During Friday’s meeting, high school students from across the county came in and out of the commission room, participating in Know Your County Government Day. Wender talked to them about the role of the commission and the sorts of matters taken up at meetings.

The county signed an intergovernmental agreement with the New Haven Public Service District to draw down $51,000 of the $125,000 committed in April 2012 to the Winona sewer project, to be taken out of redistributed coal severance funds. The money will be used to pay consultants.

"What’s significant here is this is the first time the county commission has ever spent near this level of funding for a public works project. We felt the county putting forth a significant amount of funds will hopefully make a difference in attracting state and federal funds,” said Wender.

The Rev. Ray Crook asked the commission for a letter of support for the Layland Miners’ Memorial that is being built in New Haven district.

The group has applied for 501c3 status, with a goal of completing the memorial by the 100th anniversary of the Layland Mine Explosion on March 2, 2015. A groundbreaking was held in April.

The disaster killed 112 men, some of whom were anonymously listed as “Italian No. 2,” etc., on death rosters. The memorial group has researched and discovered the names of all the men and plans to imprint them on stone markers at the site.

“They were just another number,” said Crook. “If something happened to you, another one would come in. They paid more attention to the mules than the men. It was atrocious.”

The commission commended Crook and his group for the work they are doing on the memorial.

They approved up to $500 for beautification of the Paint Creek Scenic Trail markers.

The county authorized the tear-down of a dilapidated structure at 4548 Armstrong Creek Road in Powellton.

— E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com