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Commission, NMVFD Discuss Ladder Truck

By Staff | Jul 12, 2017

New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rick Myers, along with Lieutenant Josh Smith, approached the Wetzel County Commission on Wednesday, July 5, regarding the fire department’s efforts to purchase a new ladder truck.

Smith said council had approved the purchase of the truck, and it would probably be 12 months until the department would actually receive the truck.

The expenditure is estimated to be around $1 million, and the city has approved financing.

NMVFD will be selling its current ladder truck to West Liberty’s fire department for $40,000.

Smith said approximately 3,000 donation allocation letters had been sent out for NMVFD’s new truck, and the NMVFD had received around $19,000 in donations.

Chief Myers said the fire department had also considered fundraisers. For instance, the department had handed out bottled water at the Back Home Appalachian Arts & Music Festival, and requested donations. He noted the fire department considered an ice cream social, and is looking at other avenues to fundraise. However, there is also the question of when the department has time to fundraise, as Myers noted that the department answers about 300 calls a year and also attends several trainings.

He noted that the department is “very fortunate” with the money it has received previously from the county, city, and state.

As for additions to the new truck, Smith said NMVFD had only purchased what is necessary to make the truck legal and safe.

“We could’ve gotten the truck $80,000 to $100,000 cheaper, but we wouldn’t have been comfortable,” Smith noted.

Commission Vice President Bob Gorby said the commission will help the fire department with its purchase and would let them know more details in the first couple of weeks of August.

“We understand that everyone has needs, and there are lots of people looking for help,” Myers noted, expressing appreciation for the commission’s help.

In other county matters, the commission approved the choice of Mid-Atlantic Business Communications for the county’s telephone vendor. They chose the option number two upgrade for $13,700. It was noted that the telephone system’s demarcation unit would be transferred from the commission building to the courthouse during the weekend; thus, none of the county departments should have a disruption of service.

Also, the commission agreed to choose Quality Aluminum to install new doors and locks at the county’s War Memorial Building. The cost of the expenditure is $4,100.

In other matters, Wetzel County Sheriff Mike Koontz, along with Chief Deputy Rob Hayes, provided the commission with an update of sheriff’s department activities for the past six months.

From January, to the conclusion of June, the sheriff’s office had issued 413 citations, served 428 warnings, issued 711 civil process papers, conducted 169 investigations and 117 arrests for felonies and misdemeanours. These arrests included 18 drug arrests, 14 arrests for burglary and breaking and entering, 17 DUI arrests, and nine domestic-related matters.

The sheriff’s department received 536 calls for service, not necessarily related to criminal matters.

It was noted that the department has responded to a spike in breaking and entering crimes, and burglaries. It was noted that the department sometimes sees an increase in this crimes.

“They tend to spike from time to time,” Koontz said of the crimes, explaining that the department has dealt with many breaking and entering crimes at businesses.

Sheriff Koontz said the department has hosted three in-service trainings. He said usually the department has sent deputies elsewhere for the trainings.

“We’ve hosted three and have had some officers come from 3.5 hours away,” Koontz said, crediting the commission for allowing the department to use the Mollohan Center for one of the trainings.

Koontz said West Virginia Northern Community College also allowed the department to host a training at the college. The trainings covered active-shooter situations, officer safety, and animal cruelty.

In the past six months, the sheriff’s department also receiving refresher lessons in rifle handling and taser recertification.

Koontz also said the sheriff’s office hired an additional deputy and also purchased that deputy’s vehicle and equipment. He said the additional deputy now allows the department to have two deputies on each shift.

“It’s increased our presence in the county and reduced overtime expenditures,” Koontz reported.

Koontz said the department has been researching reporting software. He said newer software would make it easier to search records.

Koontz also spoke on the recent “Kick-Off To Summer” picnic that the department had hosted with the Wetzel County Coalition Against Drug Abuse. He said approximately 350 individuals were in attendance. “We gave away bicycles and helmets and had hot dogs and pizza,” he said.

“I thought it went quite well.”

As for the tax office, the office sent out 54,000 statements last year. The collection rate was 90 percent, and the delinquency rate was lower thanks to reminders mailed out.

Koontz said the office also accepted credit card payments.

He said the office is prepared for the 2017 year, with 60,000 statements prepared. These statements, according to Koontz. are two-sided, offer more information, and are designed better.