Emergency and education plans top agenda
Gibbs Kinderman and Heather Niday, representing WVMR, requested $10,000 from county commissioners in hopes of improving its emergency response capabilities.
"Basically, to keep it short and sweet, in the derecho last summer, we found out that our system wasn't as strong as it needed to be," explained Kinderman. "In this era of increasing disasters, Shawn [Dunbrack] can attest to that, we're working in all three counties to try to build our system up to make it more sturdy when disasters hit. So we can be sure we're getting the message out. This morning is an example. You can't always depend on the newest technology. The Internet went out."
Kinderman said one of the things they wanted to do was develop alternative ways of getting signals to their stations and getting emergency back-up power for their transmitter in Durbin.
"Our estimated budget for this phase of our work is $50,000," Kinderman said. "We're asking the board of supervisors in Bath and Highland and you all to consider kickin' in ten thousand bucks. We're going to raise the rest with private donations. We've already raised about $7,000. That's the pitch."
EMS director Shawn Dunbrack said he is in favor of the project, and listeners in the area know to turn to the radio for breaking news.
"I just want to support it as much as I can," Dunbrack said. "The radio station is invaluable during a disaster situation. Even if they aren't regular listeners of the radio station, they know, if there's something going on, to tune in to the radio to listen for new updates."
Dunbrack said having WVMR broadcasting information during a crisis makes his job a lot easier.
"It's a big help to me," Dunbrack told commissioners. "I told Gibbs earlier, the other counties in our Homeland Security Region — Region IV — which is Randolph, Upshur, all those northern counties — they have to have their own AM radio transmitter. They have to go out and deploy those things — in the middle of a disaster — to get this information out. All I have to do is make a phone call. It's a big benefit having Allegheny Mountain Radio in our county."
Niday said the other advantage is being able to get information out well before a disaster strikes.
"If there's a snowstorm or ice or something, we're able to let people know so they can be prepared before it happens," she said.
Commissioner David Fleming said the commission's next contributions meeting was scheduled for May.
"If we made a decision in May, one way or the other, how would that affect your timeline?" asked Fleming.
"We've got enough stuff to do with the money we've already got," Kinderman said. "We just wanted to come and present it early on."
Fleming said he was okay with the amount of the request for $10,000, but thought it would be best to wait until May. He said if come May, the funding was available, he would support the request.
Commission president Dolan Irvine said he was in favor of a $5,000 donation at first.
"And if the other two counties match the ten, we'll match the ten," Irvine said. "I do know a lot of people listened to the radio that last storm we had. It was real informative in my opinion. I think that's something that's probably needed in Pocahontas County."
Elaine Diller, coordinator for the One Room University, updated commissioners on the progress they've made in the past year-and-a-half.
"It's growing," Diller said. "We're very busy. It's not that the students are more demanding, but since more students know what we can offer, they're asking for more. So we're kept pretty busy. New River is happy with what's going on. They want to continue to fund their part of it and give us more services. It's been really good. I'm really pleased with the direction we're going in. "
Diller said there are 22 students currently enrolled at ORU, and they're growing every semester. She said they're also now able to administer tests to students at the ORU.
"Where before, in Pocahontas County, we only did it two days a week through the career center," Diller said. "Thursday night we're having a student coming. He's been going to Lewisburg for tests, but now I can proctor. Alicia [Tallman] and I are qualified and allowed to proctor tests. So he's coming from Buckeye to Marlinton to take his test. The faculty communicates with me and gives me passwords."
Fleming said Roger Griffiths, dean of the Greenbrier Valley Campus at New River, was very pleased with the pilot project.
"He has agreed to provide some extra part-time help to Alicia and Elaine, to expand and continue the quality of service," Fleming said. "We're nearing the end of our two year pilot, June 30th. We need to start thinking about continuing it, should we want to do that. Given the success of the program, and Roger Griffith's praise of the program, and his hopes to expand it and provide more help — I think that's what we would want to do."
Diller said she has been in touch with Brett Withers, vice president at City National Bank where the ORU is housed.
"They want to continue to work with us and to let us use the space above the bank," Diller said. "What Brett told me, they don't want to make money on the One Room University. The bank's not interested in that, but they don't want to lose money either. So, as we grow, they want to keep an eye on the utilities."
Diller requested nearly $50,000 from commissioners for the ORU, $10,000 less than last year. Diller said she simply doesn't need as much.
"What I need are more teachers that are qualified," joked Diller.
"I think there's a lot of educator talent here that could probably step up and teach a class or two up there," Fleming said. "We didn't think about this two years ago."
Diller said an open-house is scheduled next Wednesday from 4 -7, and everyone is invited.
In other business, county commissioners agreed to purchase a document imaging system and related items from CSSI at a cost of $46,094, and a budgetary payroll system from Global Science and Technology, Inc. at a cost of $25,743.50.