By Peggy Mackenzie
Increasing ambulance service coverage in Greenbrier County’s west end was one of several topics during the Tuesday morning Greenbrier County Commission meeting.
Commission President Lowell Rose said the call for more emergency service to the Meadow River Valley has been under discussion for years. Moving equipment to the area takes 45 minutes to an hour, and then takes the same time to travel back to the hospital. Rose said he’s received calls from residents in the West End concerned over the limited coverage provided by the Quinwood EMS.
“This is an indication that more service must be provided,” he said.
The Quinwood EMS is hampered by budget limits, said Quinwood Paramedic/Office Manager Serena Davis, who spoke with commissioners. Ninety thousand per month is required to maintain payroll, insurance and liabilities for 16 employees, she said, which must also be supplemented by out-of-county services that impact response times.
“Funding is a big issue for all of the county’s all nonprofit ambulance services,” stated White Sulphur Springs EMS Paramedic Captain Thomas Hayes. He said his larger ambulance squad would be able to station at least one ambulance in Rainelle with the option of another as soon as possible “to provide the best patient care.” Hayes also suggested looking into other options to improve services.
“Adequate coverage is the question at hand,” Rose said. A motion was passed to allow WSS ambulances to provide coverage to the West End from Dawson and Sam Black to the south, and north to Quinwood, Rupert, Rainelle and Anjean.
In other county business:
- Kara Dense, executive director of the Greenbrier Convention and Visitors Center, received a loan payment deferment from the Commission, for which she cited hardship due to the Corona pandemic-affected downturn of tourism. The loan was given back by the commission in 2016 following the flooding which occurred that summer.
“The Covid-19 crisis is a greater concern than the flood,” she said, “which has brought tourism revenues down 60 to 75 percent from previous years.” She asked the annual loan payment be deferred until January of 2022. Commissioner Mike McClung inquired whether there were any legal issues with the deferment since it was a contractual agreement. Rose affirmed that the loan was not being forgiven, just deferred. The commissioners all recognized that revenues from The Greenbrier are a fraction of normal times.
- The 2020/2021 Security Maintenance Agreement with Mason and Barry, at an $21,500 annual cost, was approved, as was the annual phone maintenance agreement for 2020/2021 at $3,950 a year.
A typo in the Arts & Recreation allocation for the Alderson Community Building during GCC’s last meeting was corrected to reflect the purchase of five tables for $1,300 instead of a single table for $260.
- A little used mower owned by the county was approved to be transferred to the Meadow River Valley Association, which had made an Arts & Recreation grant request to purchase a mower. The Commission determined to donate the mower to the MRVA rather than expend A&R funds.
- Mike Honaker, executive director of 911 Emergency Center, requested permission to retain use of a storage facility at the Greenbrier Valley Airport to maintain storage of the Mobile Command Post vehicle, a valuable resource used for events throughout the county as well as for surrounding counties. It is the only unit in southern WV to serve as an on-site monitor during emergencies and large event situations.
The previous agreement for the space at the airport was agreed upon by a simple handshake with Airport Authority, he said. But with concerns that the Airport Authority was considering leasing the airport facility to other entities, Honaker requested the commission approve a formal lease agreement with the authority to lease the facility at $1,500 a month. In addition, he said the county-owned facility in Maxwelton is inadequate for the storage needs for PPE and other supplies and is becoming dilapidated.
McClung said he would rather that the funds going to the Airport Authority would instead go to upgrading the Maxwelton building, and if the airport is leasing facilities, it should be at a fair market value. Rose said the previous tenant had paid $500 for the facility, which has over time inflated to $1,500 a month, and the Maxwelton building needs renovations before it can accommodate storage of the mobile command post vehicle. The vote to approve Honaker’s lease agreement request was 2-1, with McClung opposing.
- Two more county board appointments were approved: David Alderman to sit on the Planning Commission and Eric Hall to replace Jerry Cook on the Building Commission.
- Quinwood Broadband Project was approved to apply for a community development block grant award.