The Jackson County Commission passed a budget totaling $11,561,121 for fiscal year 2020-2021 at its March 18 meeting.

An annual 2.5 percent raise for all county employees was included. A secretarial position at the prosecuting attorney’s office was also incorporated in the budget. That office had not seen a personnel increase in several years. The coal severance tax, estimated at $60,500, will be used for the Courthouse general funds. The complete budget can be found on page _____ of this paper.

Montana Boggess, 911 director, updated Commissioners Dick Waybright, Mitch Morrison, and Mike Randolph on activities at the center in February.

With the COVID-19 virus taking precedence in the last few weeks, Boggess said 911 dispatchers have now added two new questions when answering emergency calls.

“They will, in addition to the normal procedure, ask the following two questions,” Boggess said. “Has the caller recently traveled out of state and has he or she come in contact with anyone who is possibly infected with the Coronavirus?”

Boggess said her office has been in close contact with the Jackson County Health Department and the Department of Homeland Security Emergency Management.

“We are doing all we can, as a team, to keep on top of this,” she said.

Prosecuting Attorney Katie Franklin spoke to the commission regarding the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) application for a federal grant for 2020-2021.

“We have had a victim’s advocate for 23 years,” Franklin said. “The grant would be for $39,648 and the county commission’s portion would be $9,912 which would cover such things as insurance. Our advocate, Megan Shockey, has done an excellent job and we certainly need her to be able to continue.”

The commission approved the request to authorize Waybright to execute the grant application.

In other business:

• Boggess reported that certified training is almost complete for new 911 employees

• Commission learned that on Feb. 27, due to an issue with Frontier, calls were being routed to Putnam County. Employees from county 911 went to Putnam to help relay the call information to Jackson County until the line was repaired several hours later.

• It was noted that Jackson County 911 already meets the nationally certified program standard required by House Bill 4123

• Due to House Bill 4178, 911 recordings must be kept for two years rather than 90 days, but this is an unfunded mandate

• Commission approved, retroactively, the order to change polling places for Precinct 4 and 8 (the former Ravenswood Middle School). Those precincts will now be at the new Ravenswood Middle School/High School and the new City Hall.

• County Clerk Cheryl Bright addressed the Commission regarding concerns for her office concerning the Coronavirus

The commission went into closed-door executive session for 26 minutes to discuss the Quick Response Team grant and personnel.

An additional closed-door session was scheduled for 1 p.m. on March 18 to meet with all elected officials concerning procedures for Courthouse business regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The continuity of operations plan must be submitted to the state by March 24.

The next meeting of the commission, due to changes caused by the coronavirus, is schedule for 9:30 a.m. on April 8 at the Jackson County Courthouse.