By Peggy Mackenzie
An update on the progress of the local 911 addressing project was presented to the Greenbrier County Commission at Tuesday’s meeting by Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Al Whitaker. He introduced Tre Penegar, project manager for the State Addressing and Mapping system, who stated the county is ready for finalization.
The system, Penegar said, is ready for a test run, having completed the address inventory for the county and the new physical address conversions with the postal service, which has been a very complex process. Alderson, he said, will be the first Greenbrier County municipality for the test run. The process will involve sending the mail to Charleston and then back to Alderson for reviews with the residents for any problems. Penegar stated there will be glitches and the postal service will be slow at first, but moving forward, progress will be made as Rainelle and Grassy Meadows, the next two communities on the list, are initiated. The speculated timeframe for completion of the conversion for all areas of the county is the end of March 2015.
The 911 Center is anticipating a large volume of calls from residents when the test run begins, so Whitaker has arranged for a separate phone line be made available so as not to go through the dispatch center lines. He said information will be provided to the public on the system change progress through social media, the 911 Website and the Greenbrier County Website. Whitaker also advised residents to post their new address in a clear location on their property for the convenience of first responders and emergency services.
In other business:
• The commission received a unanimous vote from the arts and recreation committee to approve a 2014 allocation of a $50,000 grant to Friends of the Blue, a group dedicated to keeping the Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion from collapsing. The commission approved the funds as requested, with the stipulation that a Division of Culture grant is confirmed.
• In a discussion over changing the hours for the Greenbrier County Animal Control Officer, Commissioner Mike McClung said, “With 1,000 square miles of road to cover in the county, to have one person be available on call 24/7 is asking too much. The logical solution is to establish more realistic hours.” McClung’s solution was to propose the animal control officer work the same hours as any other courthouse employee. He said it is too costly for the county to pay for overtime or comp pay. Additionally, the county’s efforts to finding another qualified person to cover the weekend hours has not panned out. Commissioner Woody Hanna stated that Robert McClung, the animal control officer, had requested that changes to his working hours be tabled until the January commission meeting. Hanna also expressed concern about emergency situations arising when the animal control officer is not on duty – “What then?” he asked. Commissioner McClung said, “This is a task that can’t be handled by one man all the time. His hours should be the same as those of courthouse employees.” The vote to that effect was 2/1 with Hanna opposing.
• At the close of the meeting, Commission President Karen Lobban intended to set holiday hours for the county courthouse employees, however, the other commissioners recalled that establishing state and county hours of operation fall under the authority of the governor. “I don’t have the authority to set those hours,” McClung said. The courthouse will be open for half a day on Christmas Eve and closed all day on Christmas Day.