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Preston will check with state on $10,000 grants to volunteer fire departments

KINGWOOD — County commissions do not have the $10,000 allocated by the governor for each volunteer fire department, Preston County commissioners said Tuesday.

County Administrator Kathy Mace addressed the grants after a firefighter left the question on the commission’s Facebook page, during Tuesday’s meeting.

Nor do counties have the money the governor announced will be allocated to fairs and festivals, she said. Governor Jim Justice announced July 22 that each of the state’s 419 volunteer fire departments will receive $10,000. He announced the fairs and festivals grants last week.

“I do think it might be a good idea if we reached out to our representatives and let them know that we’re not hearing any word on those particular allocations that definitely come from the state,” Mace said.

Commissioner Dave Price said he was told by a colleague that rules are being developed on how the $10,000 grants can be used.

“Rules change. We have rules in June and we have rules in August. To vent a little bit of frustration, I can tell you that anybody working in this environment right now, you’re waiting on a policy … that changes by noon,” Mace said.

“However, when the governor has said the money is coming, we need an answer for those individuals and those organizations that are waiting on money the governor has said is coming,” she added. “I think it’s really important that if we’re going to promise people cash, it’s delivered.”

COVID-19 update

As it has been since March, COVID-19 was also a topic at the meeting. Preston Health Department Director V.J. Davis said the county had 110 confirmed and 22 probable virus cases as of Monday afternoon.

Under the state’s new color system for determining which counties can have school, Preston would have to average about seven new cases a day over a seven-day period to go into red, which would trigger the closure of schools, Davis estimated.

“We may have gotten close to that when we had the outbreak from Myrtle Beach, but we haven’t been anywhere close to that lately,” he added.

He, County Health Officer Dr. Fred Conley and Health Department Nurse Jeanne Welch are meeting with school nurses this week. The health department will do contact tracing for any school related cases the way it does any other case, Davis said.

“The plans that are in place with the school system, we have looked at them … there is no fool proof way you can have for opening schools back up, but I think the plan we have in Preston County is as safe as it can be,” Davis said.

Mace gave commissioners a draft copy of COVID-19 policies for properties the county leases out and regarding employees who travel out of state overnight. It will be considered at the next meeting.

Commissioners also:

  • held a public hearing, then approved Public Service District 4 expanding its coverage area to include Bruceton Mills. PSD 4 and Bruceton’s water system plan to merge. No members of the public attended the public hearing and no comments on the expansion were received by the commission.
  • approved the assessor hiring Tammy Cosner, at a starting rate of $12 per hour, beginning Monday.
  • approved a change in status for utility officer Jim Root Jr. from salary to hourly. There was no change in his rate of pay.

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