By Charlotte Underwood/Staff Writer
An interlocal cooperation agreement for law enforcement and other business topped the agenda at the Tuesday night meeting of the Whitley County Fiscal Court.
Magistrates voted in approval of the interlocal agreement, that if accepted by other counties, will give the Whitley County Sheriff’s Office and other local officers jurisdiction in other counties for investigative and natural disaster purposes.
Sheriff’s department Chief Deputy K.Y. Fuson was on hand to answer any questions the magistrates had about the interlocal agreement. K.Y. Fuson explained that Laurel County had done this and that it had really helped them out after the tornadoes.
“What this does, it gives us jurisdiction if we have to go into another county for investigative purposes or to aid them in natural disasters,” K.Y. Fuson said. The agreement works both ways and would give the Laurel and Knox County deputies jurisdiction in Whitley County for the same purposes.
“This would help us have a faster response time if there was a need to be in the other counties because there would be no swearing in and no tying up other departments,” K.Y. Fuson said, explaining that if deputies had to go into another county for investigative purposes and vice versa, each agency would notify the other county that they would be there and the purpose.
“They have had an agreement like this up in northern Kentucky for eight to 10 years and it has worked very well for them,” said K.Y. Fuson.
“It is primarily an investigative and natural disaster tool,” said Judge Executive Pat White Jr. The agreement does not take effect for 60 days and if all the counties in the agreement do not approve, it will not go into action at all, according to White.
Magistrates also discussed a resolution regarding the management control of the Whitley County 911 Dispatch. Whenever there is a change in personnel, the resolution must be updated, according to White.
“This is just an interlocal agreement that we have to keep updated as personnel changes. We have a new state police captain and county attorney — we just have to do it for the audit purpose of the 911 center,” White said, explaining the need to update the resolution.
Magistrate Jamie Fuson said that a member of the EMS board had approached him with a question regarding the resolution and the supposed lack of a paragraph giving 911 control over personnel. Jamie Fuson made a motion to table the agenda item until next month when members of the EMS board could attend the meeting.
The motion was approved and the item tabled until the May meeting of the fiscal court.
“If there’s a question, then I think it is best to wait and work it out before hand,” White agreed.
Magistrates also approved a resolution for Whitley County to apply for a Local Government Economic Development Fund grant to help pay for the new Challenger tractor and side boom mower that the county recently purchased. The tractor cost approximately $94,000, according to Jamie Fuson.
“The tractor has a four-year warranty and I think it was a good investment for the county,” Jamie Fuson said.
Other business included the approval of monetary disbursements of fund balances left over from former Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge in the amount of $30,000.
“This is the distribution that auditor’s recommended to Jeff (county treasurer). To my understanding, these are primarily tax accounts,” White said. He also said that $25,000 went to one company that had overpaid the sheriff.
Magistrates also accepted the Whitley County Conservation District’s annual plan of work and budget for the fiscal year 2013, as well as the Whitley County Public Health Taxing District’s annual budget summary for 2012/2013.
“The health department runs almost exclusively on fees; taxes haven’t been raised in nearly three decades,” White said.
A bid was also accepted by the magistrates on Tuesday night regarding the purchase of 911 recording equipment. Homeland Security provided a $33,000 grant for the purchase. The bid came in at $23,000 and the excess money will be returned to Homeland Security, according to Whitley County Project Manager Amber Owens.
Magistrates also approved the quarterly report from the sheriff’s office.
“The sheriff’s department looks fairly healthy,” White said.
“I’m glad you are in the black,” said Magistrate Robbie Brown.
Before the meeting closed, magistrates and audience members were given an opportunity to raise issues or concerns before the fiscal court.
Robert Thomas, of Rockholds, approached the magistrates with an issue regarding the Whitley EMS. He explained he had been hurt recently and when the EMS arrived the first thing they wanted to do was airlift him to Tennessee.
“I didn’t want to be airlifted anywhere and I told him that. I thought they were supposed to take you to the nearest hospital,” Thomas said, asking the magistrates if the EMS had the authority to override someone’s wishes of not flying.
White told Thomas he thought he had a legitimate claim and that he wished to get more information from him regarding the incident.
County Treasurer Jeff Gray, who has past experience with the EMS agreed, saying that while EMS had the authority to assess the situation and make a decision, the patient had the authority to refuse.
Magistrate Jamie Fuson also brought up possible research on an emergency call system for Whitley County. Jamie Fuson and Brown had recently attended the Spring Magistrate Convention in Louisville where they learned about an emergency call system called Blackboard connect.
Representatives from West Liberty, where the early March tornado struck, spoke very highly of the call system and cited it for saving many lives, according to Brown and Jamie Fuson.
“They really praised this system; it calls cell phones, sends texts, emails and apparently really made a difference up there when the tornado struck,” Jamie Fuson said.
He and Brown both said they would like to see Whitley County implement an emergency call system.
“You don’t think you are ever going to need it, but then they probably thought that to,” Brown said, referring West Liberty and other areas struck by recent tornadoes.
By Charlotte Underwood/Staff Writer
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