ROMNEY — The Hampshire County Commission dealt with impacts of COVID-19, including equipment needs of first responders, at their only scheduled November meeting Tuesday.
They also certified the county’s election results, having canvassed the election on Nov. 9, a process during which they select a precinct at random, and then compare reported results with a recount of the paper record.
No problems were found with Hampshire County voting, though recounts are under way in some other counties, County Clerk Eric Strite reported. He suggested problems may have originated in races where multiple counties share a state senate seat.
Strite said he had been told the state would not be certifying its statewide election results until the week of Nov. 23.
County emergency management director Brian “Tad” Malcolm appeared before the commission to ask that some of the $100,000 block grant the county received from the state be spent to deal with needs of first responders in the field.
Malcolm pointed out that Hampshire County is seeing “an unprecedented amount of COVID right now,” and asked for funds to purchase fitted masks for first responders.
He said the close fit of the masks offered considerably more protection, since each one is personally fitted, and can be decontaminated, with filters requiring replacement just once a year.
Malcolm had talked to heads of the Romney and Springfield Rescue Squads, Donnie Smith and Donna Steward, and said they favored the purchase.
Malcolm also asked for more sanitizing equipment to be purchased and placed in each station, reporting last week the county ambulance service had started using the equipment, and found it worked well. He also suggested the purchase of emergency ventilators.
Commission President Bob Hott asked about volunteer fire departments, saying some of the block grant could be used to help them, and Malcolm agreed it was needed, since some are looking at shortfalls of $40,000 due to cancellation of fundraising events.
Hott suggested taking until the commission’s Dec. 15 meeting to decide, but Malcolm said any equipment purchased with the block grant had to be received and put to use by Dec. 31.
The commissioners approved the purchase of the fitted masks and sanitizing equipment.
COVID-related increases in the cost of labor and materials for the construction of an access road in the Capon Bridge Technology Park led Hampshire County Development Authority Executive Director Eileen Johnson to ask the commission to consider helping with expenses — but only if needed.
She reported the impact of COVID caught the development authority by surprise, but they have found ways to cut costs over $40,000 so far, with the help of the county broadband project, which contributed some materials.
If they have access to asphalt for paying the new access road, it could be completed by the end of the year, Johnson said.
In other business, Commissioner Brian Eglinger proposed revision of the county ambulance ordinance to require people asking to waive fees be told the date when the County Commission will consider their request, so they will be able to appear.
County broadband chair Aaron Cox reported continued progress on projects around the county, and said he has contacted Virginia Air, the company that constructed a tower behind the Dollar General in Capon Bridge to provide wireless Internet, and asked that they communicate with the county before building towers, since they will now find it hard to compete with HardyNet’s fiber-based service, but there are other parts of the county which could use wireless service.
The commissioners agreed to sign a letter of support for a Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund grant for stormwater abatement requested by Romney Mayor Beverly Keadle.
Strite reported the county has been granted the funds necessary to replace the entrance doors on the courthouse from the state Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority.