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Preston Commission ready to spend some CARES money

KINGWOOD — The Preston County Commission is ready to spend some of its CARES money.

The three commissioners met for a second work session Oct. 12 to discuss allocating the roughly $922,000 it received from the state as reimbursement for COVID-19-related expenses. 

“CARES funding for approval and/or consideration” will be on the agenda at the commission’s next meeting, County Administrator Kathy Mace said at the end of the work session. “And then you all can stew it over and make any motion you want to.”

Commission President Don Smith said as a starting point the commission should approve the purchase of Tasers for The Preston County Sheriff’s Office and the reimbursement of $10,000 for administrative costs. Commissioners David Price and Samantha Stone agreed they should approve those items.

Sheriff Paul “Moe” Pritt previously requested 20 tasers and the supporting equipment at a cost of $51,800. The Tasers will be distributed to deputies as the civilian employees, such as court security, have Tasers that are about a year old and still under warranty.

Pritt made an additional request at the work session for a new drone. He told commissioners there were issues with its current drone discovered during the Resonance Music Festival.

“The weather conditions, it couldn’t take the rain, it couldn’t take the fog, it couldn’t take anything,” Pritt said.

The drone, which has better zoom and multiple lenses, would cost about $40,000, Pritt said. Melissa Hardy, administrative assistant, spoke with the company and later in the work session said an unofficial quote came back for $30,688.

Another new request since the commission’s last work session on the funds was from the county’s fire departments but there was no specific request.

Price, who is a volunteer firefighter, said he was thinking $180,000, or $15,000 a department, should go toward the county’s volunteer departments. Stone said she was thinking $20,000 a department.

Stone agreed with Price that the priority for the money should be fire, EMS and enforcement, but thought the requests from the county clerk and county assessor were small enough that she didn’t see not funding those requests. 

The clerk requested items for the election center and some funds for a part-time laborer. The assessor requested tablets, laptops, a $6,000 GIS change detection service and tents. Stone has objected to the tents in both CARES work sessions, and a discussion was held at the first session about an indoors annex location for the assessor’s office rather than outdoors with the tents.

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