Newell resident Mike Nixon  took the Hancock County Commissioners to task on several issues at Thursday’s Commission meeting.   Citing U.S. Supreme Court rulings that OSHA could not mandate health issues in businesses, Nixon, a member of the Newell Fire Dept.,  questioned how the Hancock County Health Department had authority to declare the Fire Department’s bingo games at Wells School non-smoking.  According to Nixon since the enactment of the non-smoking policy in 2015, the Fire Department has lost $400,000.00 and the Wells School building is in disrepair due to lack of funding.

           Nixon, also asked that Newell receive it’s share of the American Rescue funding which was distributed to the municipalities and to the County.   Since Newell is among the unincorporated areas in the County,  funding must go through the County Commission.     Nixon  appeared before Commissioners at a workshop  on the ARP funds in 2021   asking that the money be used to provide  $5,000.00  to each emergency worker, additional funding for equipment for the Newell Volunteer Fire Department and new sidewalks for the Newell Community.    At recent Public Service Commission hearing regarding declaring the privately-owned Newell Water Company distressed, Nixon told the PSC that  the Newell Volunteer Fire Department was the “recognized governing body” of Newell.

            “Why do we have the County Commission dictate to the Newell area (how funds are dispersed.)?”   Nixon asked concluding his remarks by promising to travel to Charleston and investigate the matter.

          Tracy Lemley, director of the 911 Communication Center, provided the Commission with a 2021 activity report.   According to Lemley the Department is almost fully staffed with 11 fulltime time dispatchers and only one-full time position open.    In 2021 she reported  17,854  911 calls were received, an average of 49 per day and 90,496 administrative calls were received, an average of 248 per day, for a total of 181,456 the past year.

In other business, the Commission:

**Approved a funding request for $15,000.00 from the Hancock County Solid Waste Authority.  Commissioner Jeff Davis noted that the amount will draw down matching funds many times over.  He also noted that plans are in the works for a Spring Cleanup;

**Approved a reimbursement request for $2,885.45 from the Hancock County Museum for utility  services and liability insurance;

**Granted permission to advertise for summer interns to the Hancock County Extension Office;

**Approved the updated grass cutting information for County properties.  Commissioner Eron Chek noted the information was more detailed and provided more information than in past years;

**Appointed Sarah Cale and Corinna Meyers to the Hancock County Parks & Recreation Board;

**Approved the Election Security Policy;

**Reappointed Jeff Oyster to the BHJ-MPC Technical Advisory Committee;

**Transferred Connor Lang from part-time dispatcher to full-time dispatcher effective March 1, 2022;

**Accepted the resignation of Reyna Allison from full-time animal care technician and approved Allison as part-time worker;

**Approved the payment of accrued vacation time to Allison;

**Approved Jonathon Howard and Edward Beaumont as Hancock County Sheriff’s Reserves.