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

News

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.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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.

Conley discusses school safety at Board of Education meeting

Business

MURPHY, N.C. – At the Thursday, March 8, Cherokee County Board of Education (BOE) meeting, Dr. Jeana Conley, school superintendent, delivered an update on current school safety guidelines and policies as well as plans for continued improvement in this area.

After the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which claimed the lives of 17 students and staff, many school systems across the region have reviewed safety measures and taken steps to enhance safety procedures at school campuses.

Cherokee County School Superintendent Dr. Jeana Conley, center, addresses school safety at the Cherokee County Board of Education meeting Thursday, March 8, with board members Paul Brown, left, and Jeff Tatham, right.

Conley told the board several local meetings have taken place with principals, school resource officers (SROs) and other law enforcement officials since the Florida tragedy in an effort to review safety procedures and priorities. Currently, a number of measures are in place or are being established to enhance the safety of Cherokee County Schools.

The superintendent explained comprehensive safety and emergency response plans are in place at each campus across the school system and all staff have been trained for emergency response. Additionally, the school board is currently reviewing a re-evaluation of the system’s safety preparedness policies and will recommend further actions at its April BOE meeting. Students will receive updated safety training and instructions Tuesday, March 13, which has been designated Student School Safety Awareness Day by Cherokee County Schools. Also, monthly emergency drills are being conducted at all county schools.

Conley also stated Cherokee County Schools has received a grant to help secure a fifth SRO to serve at its 12 campuses countywide. The school system also plans to ask for additional funding for enough SROs to serve at all 12 schools on a full-time basis, Conley added.

Other improvements include the installation of keyless-entry hardware at school entry access points and school security cameras at school sites.

“All of our school administrators and counselors will be receiving professional development in threat assessment protocol to better identify students who are in need of support and further attention,” Conley informed the board.

A new and improved Safe Schools Alert, which allows individuals to report safety and security concerns anonymously via email, phone or text message, is also in the works, according to Conley.

The superintendent also stated she would like to see veterans, retired law enforcement, and other willing volunteers take part in an overall safety plan for each school.

“Caring community members can make an impact, just with a physical presence. We are hosting meetings in each area to explain how to become a volunteer and receive the volunteer application packet,” Conley said.

Cherokee County Schools have also adopted the “Run, Hide, Fight” emergency protocol enacted by the state as a method to counter an active-shooter event. Conley stated this method is applicable not only for students at schools but also at any public place where an active-shooter event takes place.

In other business, a number of potential purchases were presented for approval by Winfield Clonts, board member and chairman of the board’s financial subcommittee. The board awarded a contract bid to Ben Hill Roofing & Siding in the amount of $343,900.00, which was the lowest among four received bids, to replace the roof of the Andrews High School gymnasium and cafeteria buildings. Though Conley admitted the project might come with a “sticker shock,” she added the roof replacement is a necessary project, stating games played in the gymnasium in the past have had to be stopped during heavy rains.

The purchase of a new scoreboard for the softball field at Murphy Recreational Park was approved. Clonts explained the Murphy High School girls softball team uses the field for its games, and the school board will split costs for the scoreboard with the recreation park. The cost to Cherokee County Schools will be $1,537.

The board also approved the purchase of 68 new stools for the Murphy Middle School cafeteria in the amount $2,485. Clonts further explained the table tops in the school’s cafeteria remain in good condition.

Other purchases approved at the BOE meeting included:

  • A $6,500 purchase for a 12-by-24 storage unit for Hiwassee Dam School;
  • A $9,973 upgrade for the sprinkler system on the Murphy High School football field; and
  • A $3,312 project to resurface the infield of the Hiwassee Dam High School baseball field.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

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.

Conley explains flu impact on Cherokee schools

News, School Corner

MURPHY, N.C. – In her Superintendent’s Report at the Cherokee County Board of Education (BOE) meeting Thursday, Feb. 8, Dr. Jeana Conley discussed the impact of this year’s influenza outbreak on the county schools.

“Traditionally, to close a school, what we’ve seen historically is that we need 20 to 22 percent (absentee rate) and sometimes school systems wait until 30 percent (to close a school),” Conley explained. “We’re working with our health department. We would like, if there is a school closure, for it to be a collaborative effort that encompasses the entire community because it doesn’t do a lot of good according to the research to close schools if we can’t stop ball games, stop functions on the weekend (and) have limited activities with the community. So, it needs to be a comprehensive community approach when we do close schools.”

According to Conley, The Oaks Academy school had the highest absentee rate of all schools across Cherokee County as of the BOE meeting at 14.9 percent. This was followed by Murphy Middle School at 12.4 percent, Andrews Elementary at 11.7 percent, Hiwassee Dam High at 11.5 and Martins Creek Elementary at 10.7 percent to round out the top five schools with the highest absentee rate.

“One of the issues with the flu this year is that we’re not seeing it massively in our (absentee) numbers, but when we do see it, it is a terrible case of the flu,” Conley stated.

When BOE Chairman Paul Brown asked Conley if the number of absences were better than the previous week, Conley reported that there had been isolated spikes in numbers at certain schools but the county-wide numbers were falling.

After this, BOE member Tim Coffey asked Conley about absences among faculty and school staff. “We have not really had an issue with our faculty,” Conley said.

Board member Winfield Clonts gave a financial planning subcommittee report that included the proposal to request bids beginning Monday, Feb. 12, for an Andrews High School roofing project to replace the roof on the school’s cafeteria, gymnasium and dressing rooms buildings. Cherokee County Schools will receive bids on the project through March 1. Clonts told the board members the life of the roof had essentially expired two years ago.

The board discussed the lifespan advantages of proceeding with a pitched metal roof as opposed to a rubber roof. Clonts told the board a rubber roof typically has a 20-year lifespan while a metal roof usually has a 40-year lifespan. However, it was noted that installation of a metal roof would require some re-engineering of the building. Also, the board discussed the possibility of re-roofing the buildings without incorporating the existing skylights. After further discussion, the proposal for requesting bids was approved with the provision that received bids would include costs for re-roofing the building with and without the skylights.

The BOE approved usage of the Half-Cent Sales Tax Fund in the amount of $41,672 to cover maintenance and repair costs at Hiwassee Dam, Martins Creek and Murphy Elementary schools, Andrews Middle School, Murphy High School and The Oaks Academy.

An application for a debt service payment in the amount of $1,360.23 for building B at Andrews High School using the Public School Building Capital Fund of the North Carolina Education Lottery was also approved by the BOE.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

 

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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