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EMA requests include new truck, repairs

A laundry-list of requests, including a new truck for the department, from the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency director is on its way to the council. Greg Reas brought forth several items Monday night to the Harrison County Board of Commissioners meeting.
While the meeting started as usual with the recitation of the pledge of allegiance, what happened next wasn’t. Commissioner Charlie Crawford called for a moment of silence for Commissioner Jim Klinstiver, who died suddenly Sunday. A picture of Klinstiver and a bouquet of flowers were at his seat at the commissioners’ table during the two-hour meeting. (See related story below.)
Not every item Reas brought to Commissioners Kenny Saulman and Crawford will cost the county money. In fact, one could reimburse the county for the work the EMA staff does annually.
Reas presented the commissioners with the Emergency Management Performance Grant for 2017. The program allows the county to earn half of the salary of the EMA’s staff, which is $33,539.30, according to Reas, if the department meets a list of criteria and goals.
The program has had few to no changes from past years, Reas told the commissioners.
Saulman was given permission to review the documents and sign them.
Four requests heading to the Harrison County Council at its next meeting, which will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. (moved from Monday due to Memorial Day), totals more than $73,000, with the truck being the highest expense the council will have on the table.
Reas said a new truck is needed to replace a 14-year-old truck the department currently uses.
‘It has 150,000 miles,’ Reas said. ‘While that’s not a tremendous (amount) of miles, it’s got a lot of idle-time miles as well.’
The truck has already experienced some failures and had the transmission replaced, among other issues, according to Reas.
‘I think we’ve gotten our money’s worth out of this truck,’ he said.
The commissioners approved Reas taking the quote for a new truck, priced at $45,025, after a few optional items were taken off that Reas said the department wouldn’t need, to the council.
One item was a back-up warning light, which Crawford asked why Reas didn’t want the feature.
‘The one from the factory is wired in,’ Reas said. ‘Every time you put it in reverse, it’s always on. I can get an after-market one, wire it in myself. It’s a pretty simple operation.’
Reas added his way would allow the warning siren to not go off during times it’s not needed.
The addition of other options, specific to what emergency management does need, brings the total request to $52,025.
‘We need a topper for it,’ Reas said. ‘The radios I got in there need moved, and the lights and warning gear that is in there is also 12 years old, so we need to replace that as well.’
The topper would be similar to what the department uses on its current truck, with doors on three sides of the truck and the ability to lock equipment inside.
Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, the council will begin looking to extend the Everbridge alert program. The program is a mass notification system to alert residents in the county about severe weather and other emergencies, if they sign up for the free service.
Reas said the program sees a wave of new users after each flooding or severe weather episode in the county.
‘As a result, there’s between 1,500 and 1,800 people sign up for this thing in the past year,’ Reas said.
The EMA director estimated the program to have 1.5 people per household on the program sometime down the line, putting it at roughly 25,000 subscribers.
Crawford said he’s a subscriber, adding he enjoys it because he can get notifications he wants and that pertain to him.
Reas added the last time it was used, which was last week, was to notify residents who had flood damage that they may qualify for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
‘Everbridge is $12,000 a year,’ Reas said. ‘We have that price for five years running.’
According to Crawford, the council approved the system for a one-year period and would approve it again this year if the alert system continued to see people sign up and enough people thought the program provided a good service to the community.
‘I, for one, like it,’ Crawford said. ‘I think it’s a good tool for us.’
Reas said it has received several compliments.
Interested residents can learn more and register by visiting the EMA’s website,
Saulman recommended Reas find some more concrete numbers to how many users have signed up in the last year to help his case when he presents the update to the council.
Reas also has asked the county to replace an emergency warning siren head, an expense estimated at $6,540.66.
‘I usually don’t and wouldn’t ask for repairs,’ Reas said. ‘This particular one is at Heth-Washington Elementary School.’
Reas said the siren is burned and welded beyond repair. The cover that protects the siren had blown away and no one notified Reas’ department.
Finally, Reas requested an additional $3,000 to be used for equipment repair. He said the department has $3,500 budgeted for radio and other small equipment repairs for the year.
‘I have almost $1,100 left and $1,500 coming due,’ Reas said. ‘It’s about mid-year, and we’re getting into the hot season and that’s where stuff starts to go a little haywire if it’s going to.’
The EMA office is responsible for making sure radios that police, firefighters and EMS use are all working properly.
Each request passed 2-0 to advance to the council.