At its first meeting of 2020, Commissioners Waybright, Mitch Morrison, and Mike Randolph were given details on Jackson County’s status as a Storm Ready County designated by the National Weather Service.

Tony Edwards and Jamie Bielinski, Meteorologists In Charge at the National Weather Service in Charleston, presented Office of Emergency Services Director Walt Smittle with a certificate recognizing this accomplishment.

“This means that you have multiple ways of getting emergency information to your citizens,” Bielienski said. “Your schools can pick up the information as well. Several people have had weather spotter training and can report back to our website.”

Smittle has worked on this project for the past two years. As one of only 14 counties in West Virginia to have earned this status, Bielinski praised Smittle for his efforts.

“You all passed with flying colors,” Bielienski said.

A new response system for 911 was one of the topics brought to the Commission by 911 Director Montana Boggess.

The RapidSOS system will be used as a secondary location source.

“This software, which will be integrated with our Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, will give immediate exact location information if the call or text is made to 911,” Boggess explained. “The location can also be pulled from Bluetooth, WIFI, and apps on a person’s phone. It is very accurate and helpful for responders.”

The maintenance cost will be $1,200 annually, which is a deep discount from the normal cost of $7,000 per year.

All dispatchers will soon be APCO certified according to Boggess, who is an instructor. This certification required by the county, provides training in fire emergencies and law classes which gives knowledge needed for the job.

Dispatchers fielded 1,435 emergency 911 calls in December.

One loss to the 911 center is the retirement of part-time telecommunicator, Judy Bunner.

“Judy has worked for the department for 45 years,” Boggess said. “To honor her, we retired the unit number 911. That number will never be assigned to another employee.”

After a 20-minute closed door executive session for 911 personnel reasons, the Commission approved the employment of three part-time employees: Jonathan Watkins, Meghan Lupardus, and Tammy Smart were hired effective Jan. 16.

In other business:

• The Jackson County Commission re-elected Dick Waybright to serve as president for the upcoming year.

Having been elected to that position for the past several years, Waybright says that he is looking forward to continued progress.

“I am confident that the Commission will work well together as we face new opportunities and challenges,” he said.

• The following responsibilities were approved by the Commission for each Commissioner: Waybight will serve on the boards of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Jackson County Animal Shelter, Fairgrounds, Little Kanawha RC&D, Jackson County Health Department, Community Corrections (Day Report), Cottageville PSD, Little Kanawha Transit Authority, and Extension Service & County Extension Service Committee; Randolph will serve on the Solid Waste Authority, Local Emergency Planning Committee, Jackson County Safety Committee, Jackson County Library Board, Main Street Ripley, Southern Jackson County PSD, and Kenna School Committee; Morrison will serve on the Mid-Ohio Regional Council, Jackson County Airport Authority, Jackson County Safety Committee, Fairgrounds Advisory Committee, E911 Advisory Board, HRIC LEO Board Workforce Development, Jackson County Development Authority, and Northern Jackson County PSD.

• Greg Mills was approved by the Commission to fill a vacancy on the Jackson County Development Authority.

• President Waybright was approved and authorized to execute the “Funding Assistance Contract Agreement” with the West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority and all other required paperwork pertaining to the grant for the Courthouse “Mechanical-Replace HVAC System” Cycle 17 project.

• Luke Peters of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council reported on the status of the Sandyville Broadband project. Following his report, the Commission approving approximately $49,000 to help cover the total cost of the project.

• A contract with Frontier to move the current internet circuit from the 911 Center to the Courthouse in order to increase the speed from 100 mbps to 1,000 mbps was approved by the Commission based on a recommendation by IT Manager Greg Thomas.

• Nathaniel E. Knopp as appointed as the personal representative for the estate of Edward D. Knopp, a.k.a Edward Dwight Knopp.

• In public comment, David Riffle reiterated his request for the Commission to establish a website which would post the times and status of meetings. Riffle said he came to the Jan. 9 scheduled meeting to find that it had been cancelled. He also repeated his request that the position of Commission president be rotated, pointing out that President Waybight had served in that position since 2014.

• The next meeting of the Commission will be at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 22 at the Jackson County Courthouse.