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  • Writer's pictureClay County

Upgrading Clay County School Security

Special Meeting of Clay County Board of Commissioners results in agreement to assist in upgrading Clay County school security, finalizing the contract for Emergency Management Services and upgrading recreational facilities and campground electrical supply

Hayesville, N.C. – On November 16, 2018, the Clay County Board of Commissioners held a Special Public Meeting to address several important issues relating to the safety and security of students at Clay County schools, the County’s contract with Union General Hospital for Emergency Medical Services, and a contract for electrical upgrades at Clay County recreational facilities.

At the last Regular Meeting of the Commissioners on November 1, 2018, the Commissioners authorized financial support in the amount of $150,000 to support implementation of the prioritized Emergency Preparedness Plan for the Clay County Schools. The funding is to be used hire an additional School Resource Officer and School Counselor dedicated to supporting the safety and health of students. Commission Chairman Robert Penland said, “we recognize the importance to the community that our children, school staff and teachers be safe – we therefore have set aside these funds to implement safety prudent safety measures to provide greater visibility and availability of human support in the form of an additional School Resource Officer and School Guidance Counselor. Providing open and trusting individuals to deal with concerns about children or adults with mental health issues that may affect the school will do more to counter potential violence than just focusing on the mechanisms for safety.”

In fact, in the fall of this year, the Washington Post sent surveys to each of the schools that had endured a shooting of some kind since the 2012 killings of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Connecticut. It found that most schools felt they could have not avoided the violence even with increased spending on apparatus at the schools; rather, the report suggested that measures to impede shooters and increase the preparedness of schools to get staff and students to safe places, along with increased attention to student mental health, would do more to impact potential problems in the future.

With regard to the signing of an agreement with Union General to provide emergency medical services to Clay County, Commissioner Rob Peck indicated the following: “six weeks ago, the Commissioners signed a non-binding letter of intent to negotiate a definitive agreement with the hospital. This agreement comes only after a long process of due diligence.” He said, “Commissioners have had numerous conversations with the public and EMS staff to answer their questions and allay concerns. They also had numerous reviews of the county finances and noted the losses of $750,000 associated with the County’s expenditure on such services. We have had discussions with the State regarding EMS and the implications of such an agreement on our license, which the County will maintain. The Commissioners have carefully reviewed fees charged for EMS to identify missed revenue and how this can be better managed. To say that the Commissioners haven’t done our due diligence is false.”

Commissioner Peck said that the County will maintain ownership of the vehicles and facilities. EMS will be provided either on par or above the quality currently offered utilizing established protocols and procedures. The contract is for one-year and provided each party three months’ notice of termination. This will save the county $150,000 a year.

Commissioner Peck also said that it has been reported in the media that patients are being persuaded to go to one facility over another. There is no proof of this and it continues to be the right of the patient to choose where he or she wants to go. The Commissioner thanked the great people who provide emergency services to the citizens of Clay County. He said, “They genuinely care and take great pride in the service they provide. It is our hope that they will continue to do just that.”

County Attorney, Merinda Woody, also noted in the meeting that there is often confusion about the acronym, “EMS.” She said that it refers to both Emergency Management Services and the County’s Emergency Management System. In terms of the contracting out of Emergency Management Services, this only affects the movement of patients by ambulance to a hospital of their choice. The County retains ownership of vehicles and buildings as well as the overall Emergency Management System. Thus, she said, “Union General will be a great partner for the County in terms of enhancing the delivery of Emergency Management Services at a higher standard and for a lower cost. The County will still maintain control over the Emergency Management System, which covers all other services, including 911.”

Director of Administrative Services, Cayce Price, also provided the Commissioners a summary of bids for the upgrade of electrical services to campsites at Gibson Cove. Four bids were received with Turpin Electrical, a Clay County registered business, providing the lowest bid for the work. The total project cost is $128,173.41 and will provide existing and new campsites with improved electrical services for 30amp and 50amp connections on the Gibson Cove side. At the Rec Park, an additional 15 sites will have the new power connection, as well as access to water. He said, “This is line with our long-range plan of improving our facilities and services at the campground. We will also be adding WIFI throughout the campground for the upcoming season.”

Clay County Manager, Mark Pullium, said, “I’m proud of the County Commissioners for being pro-active on the Emergency Preparedness Plan from the Clay County Board of Education. These new initiatives are designed to make our schools safer. It is our sincere hope that our campus remains safe.”

Mr. Pullium also said, “With the start of the new camping season, we will be ready to offer visitors to our campground high quality, up-to-date and competitive campsites. Our objective is to bring our visitors back again and again to our beautiful community.”

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