Board approves temporary off-site fitness plan for Station 1 first responders

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MURPHY, N.C. – The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners approved a temporary off-site fitness plan for on-duty emergency personnel at Station 1 at the board’s June 4 meeting.

The plan will now allow only Station 1 personnel to use nearby fitness centers at their own expense while on duty in an effort to improve health and strength of the emergency personnel and provide the best service to citizens, according to information provided by the Cherokee County Emergency Services.

As Chairman Dr. Dan Eichenbaum explained, “(The agreement) is only until they get a new facility. It has been shown this will not cause a delay in response time. Both truck workers must agree and only one truck at a time (may leave Station 1). This is to allow them because they do not have adequate space to work out in (at the station).”

Brian King, of the Cherokee County Emergency Medical Services (EMS), explained to commissioners there has been a “movement” within the department to work out and exercise to increase physical strength and improve job performance over the past five years, but limited space at Station 1 has disallowed its personnel from doing so.

According to information presented to the commissioners from EMS concerning response times for personnel at a fitness center, “Crews are very adept at being able to meet our required chute times during all situations. Any delay would no different than eating showering, using the restroom, being at the hospital, or sleeping.”

Commenting on the benefits of the plan, Commissioner Gary Westmoreland stated, “Personally, I would rather somebody healthy pick me up than somebody out of shape. And I think it’s good for them. It’s good for their morale.”

Commissioner C.B. McKinnon stated while he himself can see the benefits of the plan to the county’s emergency personnel, he is also concerned about public perception.

“I understand that we’ve been in this location for a lot of years and I don’t know what’s been done in the past … but the optics of it – the public just doesn’t understand it. We’ll have the other facility up soon, and for that reason, I’m just not willing to support it,” McKinnon explained.

Ultimately, the board approved the temporary plan 4-1, with McKinnon voting against.

The board also approved a contract with Turner & Company CPAs (certified public accountant) to conduct the county’s fiscal year 2017-18 audit in the amount of $44,900.

County Finance Officer Candy Anderson explained to the commissioners the cost of the audit is the second lowest among seven counties in western North Carolina.

“I checked with surrounding counties … and a lot of them are seeing 12 to 41 percent increases in their audit fees,” Anderson stated.

The contract was approved by the board unanimously.

A capital project ordinance for the phase 5 construction project at the Cherokee County Solid Waste facility in Marble was approved by the commissioners. The ordinance appropriates $2.5 million to the project for permitting, construction, engineering, and contingency funds. According to the ordinance, revenues from the general fund are anticipated to be available to complete the project.

The board approved a number of 2017-18 budget revisions including a revision in the total amount of $31,043 to allow the use of the restricted/designated school sales tax fund balance for various projects. The amount will cover the purchases of a generator replacement at Ranger Elementary School ($19,207), bus cameras and camera systems for five new buses ($4,925), fertilizer for Bermuda turf for the football fields at Andrews and Murphy high schools ($2,653), approximately 225 lbs. of refrigerant for a compressor at Hiwassee Dam School ($2,517), and diagnostic services from Trane ($1,741).

A budget revision in the amount of $800 was approved to transfer funds from the fund balance to the detention center trust account for legal settlements.

A budget revision in the amount of $94.14 was approved to cover half the cost of new carpeting at the Martins Creek Community Center. Previously, the board approved an amount of $261; however, actual costs for the carpeting came to $710.27, which increased the county’s half share to $355.14.

In other business, commissioners also voted to allow Lewis and Clark Circus to again use Heritage Park Sept. 22 and 23 of this year.

The board also voted to allow North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission law enforcement officers to enforce laws concerning spotlighting wildlife from the right-of-way of any public road, street, or highway.

A number of upcoming Board of Commissioners are slated for June. On June 21 and 25, the board will hold fiscal year 2018-19 budget work sessions in the boardroom of the Cherokee County Courthouse at 6:30 p.m. The Board of Commissioners next regularly scheduled meeting is set for June 18 at 6:30 p.m. In addition, the board will have a special called meeting June 28 at 6:30 p.m. to officially adopt the new county budget. All meetings are open to the public.

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Author

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

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