It was another packed house inside the county commission chambers during Tuesday night’s special meeting to decide the future of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department. The commission discussed their proposal to help prevent laying off 6 sheriff deputies by December 31.
” We have to take into consideration is public safety that’s our first priority,” Harold Mcbride said. Mcbride is the County Commission President.
He said the board has decided to re-direct funding that was originally intended for the county ambulance authority to the sheriff’s department.This means that for the next six months, at least $21,000 from coal royalties will now start going to the sheriff’s department to try to help avoid layoff’s.
“Starting in January the sheriff’s department would receive that first $21,000 the rest would come into the county budget which allows the commissioners at that point if they need to, help the ambulance authority if there’s money over the 21,000 they will be able to,” he said.
Sheirff Martin west who’s also the county treasurer said the move brings a sigh of relief.
“I’ve got hope after this meeting so we’ll take that,” he said.
But not everyone agrees with the plan. Susie Adams is the director for the Ambulance Authority. An ambulance Service that is currently idled.
“I am just absolutely appalled that we can’t treat each other better in the time of an economic crisis,” she said.”That will be enough to buy tires, pay our insurance buy three or four people uniforms get our drivers certified.”
She said the move would allow them to get back up and running hopefully by January 1st but will prevent them from providing around the clock service to residents.
“It would be enough to let me put two trucks on the road for a period of time but it would not be able to provide county wide EMS service 24/7.”
In response to service being suspended other ambulance services have stepped up to help with calls in the county Including Jan Care, Stat, Southern and Wideners Ambulance Service.