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NOTES FROM THE COUNTY

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By Brandon Mattingly

 Looking for a sign

Washington County has a sign problem and local officials aren’t sure yet what they’re going to do about it.

Road department supervisor Dale Mann said at a regular scheduled fiscal court meeting on Friday that signs are missing along local roadways and that it hasn’t been a cheap expense. Stop signs, for example, cost the county in the range of $27 each to replace and with new technology emerging and a new type of road sign being introduced in 2015, that price will likely increase.

“We’re having a lot of trouble with missing signs again. We need to address that a little closer and watch where they’re at. We put up almost 20 signs yesterday all around the county and I don’t know how long they’re going to stay up,” Mann said on Friday.

Mann addressed the extent of the issue when asked by Washington County Attorney Hamilton Simms where the signs have been typically going missing.

“It’s county-wide,” Mann said. “They’re taking arrows and everything, it doesn’t really matter what it is. On East Fork (Road) the stop sign stays up 30 minutes after we leave, then it’s gone.”

County officials briefly discussed alternatives, such as painted symbols on the road itself, but further discussions will be held at a later meeting. In the meantime, officials will just have to keep their eyes peeled.

“If you don’t actually see people taking the signs down then there’s not much you can do,” Mann said.

 

High price for constable

Washington County Judge-Executive John Settles presented local resident David Donathan’s request to fill the county’s vacant office of constable last week, prompting officials to look at their requirements for the office.

Donathan acknowledged in his request that there has been extensive conversation at the state level to potentially eradicate the position altogether, but expressed interest in filling the office until the next general election. This doesn’t come without concern to the county.

“The sheriff and any of his deputies have to go through training for 18 or 20 weeks,” Settles said. “Whoever holds the office of constable doesn’t have to go through that training, so it can become a liability to this court.”

Though it will be a challenge to have an elected office removed from the current local government landscape, the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association are among the leaders in those fighting for the change.

“The Kentucky Sheriff’s Association is extremely against a new constable,” said Washington County Sheriff Tommy Bartley. “They had a survey done and their recommendation was that, ‘judge-executives regard constable as a liability to their county and does not believe that they should exist as a county officer.’”

The statement went on to read that the state police believe constables “are a nuisance and a potentially dangerous one.”

As Donathan noted in the request, acceptance of the office requires at minimum a $10,000 bond to be paid. While the court can’t outright deny anyone the right to hold office, they can raise the bond. In accordance with similar decisions in surrounding counties, the court decided unanimously on Friday to set the price of the bond for any future constable at $250,000.

“I have met Dr. Donathan and I don’t think he has any hidden agenda,” said Washington County Attorney Hamilton Simms. “I think he’s probably the most qualified person you could have to be a constable, but we cannot pick and select who we want to be constable, so I think the bond needs to be high enough that hopefully we won’t have any constables, as it is a great liability to the county.”

 

New alert system on the way

Kevin Devine, Washington County director of emergency management, presented plans for a new emergency notification system at last week’s meeting. Speed and ease were the primary factors that led to the change.

After receiving bids from Code Red and Wireless Emergency Notification System (WENS), the county decided on WENS to bring weather alerts to Washington County for at least the next two years. WENS submitted a bid of $7,900 per year and allows for up to 25,000 voice calls. Residents won’t have to worry about waiting by the phone for a weather alert phone call, however.

“They do Facebook, Twitter and all social media,” Devine said. “They do phone calls or you can sign up for texts or emails. People will be able to go to the web site and sign up for what they want.”

Devine and Settles explained that the new system will work much quicker than the system currently used by Washington County, which requires the judge or someone else to make a call to activate the alert. WENS will send out warnings the moment the National Weather Service issues them. It was not yet determined when the system would be implemented.

 

Other news

The old Springfield armory and current home of the Washington County EMS will officially be getting a facelift with nine replacement windows after the court decided on Friday to go ahead in the search for project bids. Estimates for materials only had previously been given in the range of $3,000 to $3,400. Upcoming bids will include the price of labor as the county weighs the possibility of self-installation.

Magistrates agreed to the purchase of four computers — two laptops and two desktops — for $3,245 to be distributed to the road department, EMS, planning office and solid waste/recycling. Settles said the county will only need to cover the cost of the computer headed to the road department, as the other three can be included in their department’s upcoming budget.

The court also agreed to work with the American Red Cross to attain a $500 grant through the county. The Red Cross tends to the needs of families following disasters such as house fires.