The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 6, 2012

Monroe Commission applies for Homeland Security grant

By Tina Alvey
Register-Herald Reporter

UNION — Emergency preparedness continues to be a priority for the Monroe County Commission.

Wednesday, the commissioners approved an application for $25,475 in Homeland Security funds, via the Emergency Management Preparedness Grants (EMPG) program. If awarded, the money will be applied toward the salary and benefits of 911 director Tim Wilson.

“(Wilson) spends half of his time on emergency management anyway,” County Clerk Donald Evans explained to the commissioners.

Evans prepared the grant application, which lists four project areas Wilson and his staff are actively working on, including improving information dissemination and identifying potential disaster response volunteers.

The EMPG funds flow from the federal government to the states and from there to counties and other political subdivisions.

During his monthly report to the commission Wednesday, Wilson presented a proposed policy dealing with overtime and related issues at the 911 center, which the commissioners unanimously approved with only minor changes.

Wilson said he intends to issue a copy of the policy to all of his employees and have each sign a document acknowledging they have read and understood the amended policy.

The policy includes provisions for mandatory overtime during times of emergency, along with the stipulation that part-time employees will be given first refusal rights on any extra hours. A higher rate of pay for those additional hours — time-and-a-half — will only kick-in after the employee has worked 40 hours in that week.

The commissioners amended the proposed policy to provide that 911 center employees who work on holidays will receive double their usual pay rate for those hours.

The commissioners took under advisement Wilson’s request that they revisit a travel policy that requires him to get approval for every out-of-county job-related trip. Wilson said the policy is burdensome, making it difficult for him to attend routine meetings.

“After 6 months (as director), I think I’ve proven that I’m not going to abuse (the privilege),” he said.

In other business:

-- Planning Commission President Gary Taylor asked the county commission to send a letter to Arms Wide Open Ministries, Inc., director Lori Howard seeking additional information on a forensic drug treatment facility her company is proposing for Monroe County.

Taylor said Howard has met with the planners, seeking the county’s endorsement of the facility, which also would have to be licensed by the state.

-- Taylor asked the commissioners to amend the county ordinance which now sets the number of planners at nine. His request was for an increase in the maximum size of the planning commission to 15 members, as provided in state code.

Commissioners agreed to set a public hearing on that amendment.

-- The county commission voted to submit two insurance claims related to deer running into the sides of Sheriff’s Department cruisers. The estimate for repairing one of the damaged vehicles is $3,465.94. No estimate has yet been secured on the other cruiser’s damages.

-- All are invited to an open house at the county courthouse in Union Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

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