By Free Bird/RGW Reporter for Concerned Citizens Free Press and the Central WV Secret Seven Coalition
If you sign a contract you are obligated to fulfill the terms of that contract. If you find a problem during the course of that contract, you have recourse to fight for change in the courts. Those are the plain, simple facts. Yet Gilmer County Commission has not found it necessary to pay Lewis County E911 fees, since the election of 2010, fees that have been contractually obligated. This is happening despite the fact the Lewis County Commission reduced the monthly fees charged to Gilmer County by one half for the past two years.
Whether you agree or not that Gilmer should have their own 911 center does not alter that the organization providing our current emergency services support has not been paid for work already agreed to and rendered. It does not change that they are being mistreated and publicly insulted by the Gilmer County Commission. Commissioner Kennedy actually called the Lewis County Director Rowan a “Jackass” when he questioned why payment had not been made since last year in the public commission meeting October 2011.
“Not one other Commissioner called Kennedy out on this behavior!”
They all sat there in quiet agreement. To put the icing on the cake, the commission did not sign the annual contract with Lewis County E911 at that meeting. Does this mean we do not have 911 services in Gilmer County? It should, we haven’t paid for it, there is no contract in effect.
We would be screwed if Lewis County had not worked for us and with us these many years at our request and they have continued to do the job for our citizens out of a sense of duty while trying to work to resolve the problem without pay.
Any reasonable person can figure out that if we bring the 911 center back to Gilmer County we should be working closely with Lewis and learning from all of their years of experience. Why waste our time and money reinventing the wheel? You would think Gilmer County Commission would be attending the monthly meetings but they’re not. Commissioner Ramsey walked in to the Lewis County Commission meeting to tell them we are going on our own, that’s it. Kennedy schedules to attend the Commission meetings and does not show. You would think the Fire Chief would be attending those 911 meetings but he’s not. You would think the EMS Director would be at those meetings on time but she’s walks in up to an hour late. Are they supposed to back up and redo the meeting time and time again? You would think that the Emergency Services plan for Gilmer County and Lewis County would be coordinated but it’s not and Gilmer County representatives are aware of that fact. Furthermore, Gilmer County is making no effort to sit down at the table and develop a plan to transition the services in a smooth and efficient manner with our previous provider. It is not happening. All of these facts are public record and reflected in the minutes of Lewis/Gilmer E911 and Lewis County Commission meetings.
Of course removing Gilmer County coverage is going to hurt Lewis County.
They have invested funds to grow with and have a vested interest in the center that has by mutual agreement provided multiple county emergency service needs for a very long time. They have increased their facility, staffing and training costs to meet them. The budget will be greatly reduced. They will have to lay off recent hires and the last three are Gilmer County people. Can you honestly believe that they are not professional enough to coordinate this transfer of responsibilities in compliance with the federal and state laws which govern E-911 services locally and nationwide? They have provided required federal training for our emergency responders. They have not asked us to leave, we are choosing the move and that is our right. It is the obligation of the County Commission and those they have appointed to determine if the move is feasible and if it is to make it work. It does no good to sit at the table, listen to regulatory requirements and return to Gilmer County saying this is how we’ve been told it should be done but we’ll just do it our way. Taking the easy way out will not get the job done this time.
“Providing ambulance and emergency rescue is too important an issue!”
“It is up to county leadership to ensure all that takes place is in the best interest of our citizens!”
Calling our neighboring leaders jackasses does not help, it hurts the process. It gives cold comfort to those forced to rely on them in an emergency now or in the future. It is business as usual ran by egos and politics, not intelligence and good common sense.