BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Commission didn’t see a request from the county E-911 Communication Center as an emergency.
The commission took no action Thursday on a request from the Comm Center to establish an additional full-time telecommunicator position.
Kimbra Wachob, assistant Comm Center director, appeared before the commission to ask that it fund a 13th telecommunicator position. The Comm Center currently employs 12 full-time telecommunicators, as well as Wachob and director Doyle R. Cutright II. Citing personnel matters, commissioner Sam Nolte made a motion to enter executive session, which was seconded by commissioner Troy “Buddy” Brady before being approved.
However, after emerging from a 20-minute executive session, none of the commissioners made a motion to approve Wachob’s request. When commission president Terry Cutright called for a motion to authorize the request, the motion died after neither Nolte nor Brady spoke up.
Commissioners offered no comment after the motion died, but following the meeting’s adjournment, Cutright said he thinks the position is unnecessary.
“I don’t feel that we need to create a new position right now because this is the first year that the Comm Center has had its own budget,” Cutright said. “Before, they were handled under the (county) general fund budget. I think we want to give them at least a year of them operating under their own budget so we can keep a track record and see what’s going on before we create any positions.”
Cutright noted the Comm Center is now fully staffed, after the commission approved the hire of two new telecommunicators during Thursday’s meeting — Travis Anderson and Amy Saunders. Both will commence work Sept. 5 and be paid $11 per hour.
“I would like to add that Doyle (Cutright) and Kimbra (Wachob) are doing an excellent job,” Cutright said.
Later Thursday afternoon, Wachob said she’d requested the creation of the new position “as a buffer” to cover times employees are sick or undergoing training, which can last from three to six months, depending on how the employee progresses, Wachob said.
“This place isn’t for everyone, and you like to have that back-up,” she said. “It takes a long time to get a candidate through training, and we had a lot of really good candidates this time around.”
Working as a telecommunicator isn’t easy, Wachob emphasized.
“There’s a lot of stress, and you’re working 365 days a year, no holidays, and we don’t hear about people’s good days,” she said. “They only call us on the bad days.”
In other news, the commission tabled a request from county animal control officer Dustin Hollen to attend a three-module training, known as the National Animal Control and Humane Officer Academy, coordinated through the National Animal Care and Control Association. The three-part training is scheduled for Oct. 23-27 in Louisville, Kentucky; Nov. 13-17 in Leesburg, Virginia; and March 12-16 in Kannapolis, North Carolina.
“I’d like to get some training to help me in a lot of different situations,” Hollen said. “I know this class costs a lot ($4,820.23, according to Brady), and it’s going to be a lot of work. But when I was hired I was pretty much thrown to the wolves.”
Brady said Hollen’s work has been stellar, despite having not received formal training.
“I have not heard one complaint about you,” Brady said, “and believe me, I’ve heard complaints about other animal control officers.”
Nolte said, “I don’t think we have a (budget) line item for this this year,” but suggested Hollen maybe attend just one of the three sessions to cut costs.
Brady instructed Hollen to inquire with other county animal control officers to see if he could find someone else who wanted to attend the training to split the cost of transportation, food and housing, enabling the commission to shell out less money.
“Find that out for us and come back next Thursday,” Brady said, making a motion to table Hollen’s request. Nolte seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
Before adjourning, the commission also:
Granted a 60-day extension to Thomas Moates, allowing him more time to clean up his property, Tax Map 6C, Parcel 41, in the Warren Tax District.
Reviewed and signed a letter from Charlie McKinny, assistant chief inspector with the Chief Inspector’s Division of the W.Va. State Auditor’s Office, confirming services were provided to the commission during 2015-2016 fiscal year. The fee for those services amounts to $28,240.
Approved a request from the Rev. Ed McDaniels to use the courthouse steps, plaza and outdoor electrical outlets Sunday, Sept. 10 from 3:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for the Fifth Annual God Belongs in our County Walk. About 300-400 people are expected to participate in the walk, which begins at Buckhannon City Park and ends at the courthouse.