Pocahontas County Commissioners Taking A Closer Look At 911 Director Position

Marlinton, WV – Bill McLaughlin, the current Director of the Pocahontas County 9-1-1Center will retire from that position later this year. With that in mind, the Pocahontas County Commissioners are taking advantage of the chance to re-examine this position created under during the tenure of a different set of Commissioners.

Commission President David Fleming read from a preliminary job description prepared by McLaughlin. It covers a myriad of duties including overseeing the 9-1-1 center, hiring, training and firing of staff in the center, preparing a yearly budget, and overseeing the 9-1-1 mapping and addressing project. After reading through the detailed description, Commissioner Martin Saffer says it raises some questions in his mind.

“Since the 9-1-1 Director is not an elected official I’ve never understood his exact role vis- -vis the three elected Commissioners who oversee the 9-1-1 center” says Saffer, “it used to be that the 9-1-1 was operated by the Sheriff. And also to have a discussion as to is the County Commission the proper supervisor of the 9-1-1 center or should it be done in some other manner.”

Commissioner Jamie Walker says the director should have a certain level of autonomy.

“Well, I would think it would be left up to us” says Walker, “but in my opinion, before and when we choose to hire somebody, I think it would be to our advantage to hire somebody that has the authority and well being to run the center themselves. I mean it would be alright if they want to discuss it with us one on one or at a meeting, but I think they ought to have the authority to do it. If they don’t have that authority, they shouldn’t be the supervisor of 9-1-1 is the way I look at it.”

Currently ultimate authority to hire and fire staff from the center rests with the Commission, who also provide the center’s yearly budget. Saffer says the job description if accepted as submitted, would change that policy. He also has questions about the center’s budget.

“While we’re looking at the job description and this relationship, think about the budgetary stance between 9-1-1and the amount of money it generates to support itself; and the money it asks from the County Commission and the kind of strange relationship budgetarily between the two entities that still has never made sense to me” he says. “It seems 9-1-1 has enough money to operate itself, period.”

The County Commission provides a budget for the center – last year it $519,000.00. The center then reimburses the county based on various fees collected. According to Commission administrative assistant Sue Helton, the 9-1-1 center has reimbursed the county $175,000.00 this year. After further discussion Commission President Fleming requested a chance to go over and make revisions to the job description. He will present the updated version at a special meeting scheduled for June 28th.

In other business, the Commissioners approved three agreements for One Room University project
to pay $90.00 per month for custodial services in the ORU office on the second floor of City National Bank
to pay half of the salary of ORU site coordinator Elaine Diller
and to pay the part time salary of ORU assistant Dorothy Shamblin.

The Commission also agreed to contribute $250.00 to the Greenbrier Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The next meeting of the Pocahontas County Commission is a special meeting Tuesday, June 28th.

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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