Pocahontas Commission gets 911 spending update

Marlinton, W.Va. –

During Tuesday morning’s Pocahontas County Commission meeting, commissioner David Fleming tells new EMS & 911 director Shawn Dunbrack that he wants to be better informed about 911 department spending.

“I think it’s fair to say that Bill McLaughlin ran a very tight budget,” he said. “He didn’t spend anything if he didn’t have to. But you’re new – you’ve come in – you’re seeing needs that need to be met and you’re spending money doing it. So, there’s a big change in that pattern that we see here. And I think we just want to know more about it.”

Dunbrack explained that Federal Communications Commission requirements forced him to buy new radios for his department, at a cost of $300,000.

“By December of this year, we had to have all the radios in the county had to be narrow-banded,” he said. “That was an FCC requirement – it had to be done. In order to that, radios either had to be re-programmed, if they were capable of it, or they had to be new radios. Because of those tight purse strings in the past in the 911 department, the radios were just so old that they could not be narrow-banded. So, it forced me to buy new radios for, pretty much, every emergency response vehicle in this county.”

Dunbrack said the 911 office building had been neglected and that renovations, including a third dispatch console, had been completed at minimal cost. The director says an expenditure for tools will save money in the long run.

“You did have a big expense on tools because there were no tools over there,” he said. “We bought some tools, so that we could do radio installations in these emergency vehicles ourselves. It was a big initial outlay, but in the long run, it’s saving us money, because we aren’t going to have to call a contractor in here for $65-70 an hour to install radios.”

Commissioner Jamie Walker reacts to news that county 911 addressing will cost $59,000 more than the original contract price.

“You are totally wasting your time signing a contract,” he said. “It means nothing if you’re going to change it more than half of the value of it. Why even bother going over it? Why even bother putting a figure on it? Just say do the work and send us a bill. We thought we was getting it for $116,000 and it’s going to end up costing us $175,000. If there’s not something false about that, there’s something wrong. But, if you’re going to be able to add to it any time you want to, and change it more than half of the value of it, why even bother putting a figure on it? That’s my theory and it’s no different than with the elevator or any other project we’ve done – everything we do runs over, it seems like.”

Commissioner Martin Saffer explains that contract modifications are sometimes necessary.

“Well, Jamie, before you were on the commission, this commission spent an awful lot of money and got absolutely zero for it,” Saffer said.

“Well, I agree with that, too,” replied Walker.

“Sometimes projects cost more money than is anticipated at the outset because they are more complicated or more difficult and some projects must be completed,” Saffer said.

Walker reacts.

“I’m the type person – if I agree to $100 – when the bill comes through, it should be $100,” he said. “If there’s more added to it, we’ll talk about that when the work needs to be done later. You don’t just go do it, turn the bill in and expect to get paid for it.”

911 addressing contractor Doug McKenzie said he had to completely re-do work by previous contractor Matt Taylor. McKenzie and Dunbrack said Taylor’s five years of work on the project, at commission expense, was completely worthless. McKenzie explained that other additional work, involving PO boxes, was made necessary by USPS enforcement of privacy regulations.

The commission voted 2-1 to approve a 911 mapping invoice of $19,182 and authorized McKenzie to complete the project. Walker dissented because he disapproved of the process.

In other business, the commission:
– voted 3-0 to pay assistant prosecutor James Love back pay, due to a clerical error;
– appointed the following to the Local Emergency Planning Committee: Shawn Dunbrack, David Fleming, David Jonese, Joseph Smith, Ann Walker, Michael Vance, Pamela Pritt, Geoff Hamill, Herbie Barlow, Charlie Wilfong, Kenneth Varner, Adam Taylor, Darren Wilkes, John Rebinski, Barbara Lay, Cindy Wilfong, Sam McPaters, David Peacock and John Leyzorek.
The commission voted 2-1 to endorse a letter to Governor Tomblin, from various groups, requesting a moratorium on new gas drilling permits. For more on the commission discussion on the requested moratorium, tune in to Noon Hour on Friday.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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