Friday, Feb. 12, 1999
Harrison EMS now bringing in more money
by Troy Graham
The Harrison County Emergency Squad, which has been
battling to stay out of bankruptcy for more than a month, has $65,000 in
bills, but has begun making lucrative non-emergency transports. The transports
"are a good way to generate revenue for the squad," said squad Director
Don Scott during a Thursday night board meeting.
The squad has been making the transports since a
January meeting when the board, which includes the three Harrison County
Commissioners, told Scott to aggressively pursue the transports. Non-emergency
transports involve moving convalescent patients. The Harrison County squad
has been focusing mainly on transporting patients between United Hospital
Center and Ruby Memorial Hospital because payment is virtually guaranteed,
But it was clear to the board that costs must be
cut in order to begin paying off some of the squad's $65,000 in bills.
The squad has been threatened with having its services cut off from a variety
of creditors, including its billing service. Board members discussed cost-cutting
measures, from eliminating some computers and telephone services to buying
cheaper gasoline from the board of education's fuel farm. "Obviously there's
going to have to be some innovative things happening as far as expenditures
are concerned," said Commissioner Roger Diaz.
The squad's board announced that it was nearly bankrupt
in December and that it had an offer from for-profit ambulance carrier
Jan-Care to buy out the squad. The board, at the urging of the county commission,
turned down the offer.
Two weeks later the commission had to subsidize the squad's payroll,
and it asked the three commission-appointed members of the board to step
down. The three commissioners then took their places to take a more hands-on
approach to the problem.
All squad purchases must now go through the board, Diaz said Thursday.
"Until we get out of this situation nobody spends anything without board
approval," he said. "I'm talking about five dollars."
Clarksburg police, newly unionized, want to talk pay
by James Fisher
Police union officials want to sit down and discuss
pay for police officers even though Clarksburg city officials say pay increases
are usually given across the board and not to one particular department.
The Clarksburg Police Department on Thursday was officially chartered as
Local 119 of the International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO. The
unionization is an effort for the officers to have one voice when addressing
problems or concerns of the department, said Local 119 President Robert
"There has never been an instance that I know of
that the police or fire department alone has been given raises," Clarksburg
City Manager Percy Ashcraft said Thursday. "The practices of the past have
been that any cost-of-living increases given were given to every employee."
However, Ashcraft said the city administration is
willing to sit down and talk about "any proposal they want to bring to
the table." He said pay is a very important issue for police officers and
firefighters. "They have very high-risk jobs and we try to provide a fair
compensation," he said.
Although Clarksburg police have one of the lowest
base salaries in the area, Ashcraft said other benefits more than make
up for cash deficiencies. Officers can take their vehicles home, don't
have to pay in to their health insurance and the city contributes annually
to the pension fund, Ashcraft said. All these things should be counted
in the total package, he said.
Another key issue the union wants to address is the steady loss of
manpower over the past few years and the decision to cut the positions
vacated by attrition.
Union officials do not have a specific number of
officers they would like to see hired, but Matheny said a committee has
been formed to study the issue. "I can say this, if you have a wreck on
(U.S.) 50, a fight in North View and a domestic in Stealey, that pretty
much kills your resources for the shift," he said. "But the calls keep
The loss in manpower has been caused by officers
leaving the department and retirements, said Chief Raymond Mazza. Although
a mass hiring of officers is financially out of the question for the city,
Mazza believes that the department will need to grow in the next 5 years.
"This is just my personal opinion, but I think the department should set
a goal for the next 5 years to be at 45 officers," he said.
Ashcraft said the decrease in the number of police
can be traced to the loss of the federal COPS Grant, which helped small
forces hire police officers for special programs. He said the officers
hired several years ago under the grant "created what looked like an explosion
in manpower." However, he said past administrations did not anticipate
matching funds and how the city would continue to fund the officers after
the grant money was exhausted. "I'd like to push the force to 40 officers,"
he said. "I can see us at some point re-evaluating the situation and maybe
looking into the COPS grant again."
Water board, city council positions to be filled
by Paul Leakan
Residents seeking a seat on Clarksburg City Council
or the Clarksburg Water Board in the city's June 1, 1999 election soon
will be able make their efforts official. Applications for 4-year terms
on city council or the water board will be available in City Clerk Annette
Wright's office beginning March 1.
The city clerk's office, located on the second floor
of the Municipal Building on 222 West Main St., is open weekdays from 8
a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The applications, along with the required $50 filing
fee, are due in the city clerk's office between March 1 and March 15.
At stake in the non-partisan election are three
council seats held by Councilmen Robert "Tom" Flynn, Frank Marino
and Mayor Louis Iquinto. The terms of the other four councilmembers, Sam
"Zeke" Lopez, Kathy Folio, Terry Greaver and Jim Hunt, are scheduled to
expire on June 30, 2001.
A seat on the Clarksburg Water Board, currently
held by Russell Lopez, is also at stake. Whoever fills the position on
the Water Board will be joined by Patricia D'Anselmi and Robert Glotfelty.
According to the city charter, anyone running for
city council must be qualified voters of the city and must have been city
residents for at least one year prior to their nomination. In addition,
applicants must not hold any other public office, except that of notary
public or member of the National Guard, naval or military reserve. Applicants
also must not be employed by the city in any capacity.
The same general requirements apply for anyone seeking
a position on the Clarksburg Water Board. City council members are paid
$2,500 a year, according to the city's finance office. The mayor earns
$3,000 a year. Water board members are paid $100 per meeting, with a maximum
$3,100 yearly salary. The president of the water board earns the same wages.