Government, Latest News, Preston County

Preston Commissioners consider employee request

KINGWOOD — Preston deputies are asking the county commission to allow them to convert unused comp and vacation time to sick days.

“We do not have the personnel to cover all the shifts we have to cover,” Capt. T.N. Tichnell explained Tuesday. “So a lot of time we’re having to do extra shifts. If you’re doing extra shifts, you can’t take the time off, so every year we’re going to have this issue.”

By policy, deputies’ vacation and CDOs (compensatory days off) are to be taken in the calendar year. Civilian employees are based on a fiscal year.

There is no additional cost to the commission, Tichnell said. If the commission allows the time to be converted to sick leave, it adds to deputies’ longevity at retirement.

The commission approved this last year. Commissioner Dave Price said it sounds like a good thing to okay. County Administrator Kathy Mace asked to delay the decision a week. Commissioners agreed.

Commissioner Don Smith recalled that last year’s action “was supposed to be a one-time deal,” to reduce the number of unused days.

“All of your employees lose their vacation if they don’t lose it,” Mace said, so others may want to be able to convert their vacation and CDOs into sick leave.

“Maybe it’s not a bad idea for everybody, but there are differences,” Price said.

Mace noted there are other 24/7 departments. Commission President Samantha Stone asked Mace to have retirement, vacation policy and other information on all employees at the next meeting.

A policy change may be needed, Mace said. Deputies fall under a different retirement system than other county workers.

The problem of finding time to use days off isn’t new. In 2002 the commission paid $46,318 to buy out as many as 20 CDO days from each deputy, correctional officer and 911 dispatcher because of similar circumstances.

Also Tuesday, Rob Kirk of the Terra Alta Volunteer Fire Department thanked commissioners for their recent $3,000 donation to each of the county’s 12 fire departments and showed them a set of turn out gear.

Three sets of coats and pants cost $4,980, he said. Two sets of boots were $780. An entire set of gear is $10,000 to $15,000 per person.

Since he joined the department in 1982, its gone from an annual budget of $500,000 to $2 million to $3 million, Kirk noted.

“We really appreciate all that you guys do,” Stone said. “When the alarms go off, you guys don’t ever hesitate, and we appreciate that.”

The commission also:

  • noted it will begin broadcasting its meetings on a YouTube channel. The link is on the commission Facebook page.
  • appointed Owen Evans to represent the Preston County Fireman’s Association on the 911 Advisory Board.
  • received an estimate of $11,832 to buy six automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for county buildings.
  • approved the demolition of a dilapidated structure on the grounds of McGrew House. Stone Paving will demolish the building, backfill the area and mulch it for $7,800.
  • will no longer abide by the governor’s color coded map for managing entrance to county buildings because it is confusing. Masks and social distancing will be required at all times.