BUCKHANNON – After a year-and-a-half of living through an unprecedented global health crisis, disasters might not seem as hypothetical or far off as they once were.
That’s why the Upshur County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is working to ensure that resources to cope with a variety of emergencies are closer to home – i.e., within reach of Upshur County families this September, a month that was dubbed National Preparedness Month in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
At the Upshur County Commission’s meeting Thursday, county administrator Carrie Wallace, also the county’s DHSEM director, said the DHSEM had assembled packets for all Upshur County pre-K students and their families designed to assist them in preparing for emergencies.
“We’ve put together some materials and packets with resources that we plan to distribute to Upshur County Schools’ [pre-K] classrooms within the next week,” Wallace said. “That way after 12 years, we will know we reached the majority of Upshur County students, too.”
Wallace asked the commission to approve a proclamation declaring September 2021 as National Preparedness Month in Upshur County and explained what the emergency preparedness packets contained. Among other items, the packets’ contents were comprised of a handout advising what items should be included in an emergency preparedness kit; a folder for important documents; information about how to sign up for the county’s WENS, or Wireless Emergency Notification System; and a family emergency guide with pointers on how to get youth invested in the process.
“We’ve created an Amazon list for all these items that are recommended to include in your bag so individuals and homes can go out and purchase these items very easily by visiting Amazon.com and searching for the ‘Emergency Kit List for Upshur County DHSEM,” Wallace said. “All these items can be purchased for under $100, and of course, there are other options for purchasing those locally as well.”
To register for the county’s WENS system, Buckhannon-Upshur residents may text ‘UpshurCoWVAlerts’ to 69310 or visit http://entry.inspironlogistics.com/upshur_wv/wens.cfm?fbclid=IwAR1Kr3t3c2NAoGpzAlvLWU5oPD. Wallace also urged residents to utilize the Upshur County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s Facebook page for regular updates and develop an emergency plan for their families and households.
In conjunction with Wallace’s announcement about the distribution of resources in schools, the commission approved a proclamation declaring September 2021 National Preparedness Month in Upshur County. The proclamation noted that September affords Upshur County residents a chance “to join citizens across the United States in preparing their homes, businesses and communities for any type of emergency, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.” This year’s National Preparedness Month theme is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disaster is protecting everyone you love.”
The proclamation encourages citizens to visit ready.gov, which provides a slew of free information and resources and focuses on a different facet of emergency preparedness each week, including making a plan, building an emergency kit, low-cost and no-cost preparedness, and teaching youth about emergency preparedness.
“Planning now before disaster is the best way to improve community recovery … and when individuals take responsibility for preparing their family and their communities, the chance of survival and return to normalcy from disaster is greatly increased,” Wallace read aloud from the proclamation.
Commissioners said they thought the packets were an excellent idea and unanimously approved the proclamation. Commissioner Terry Cutright asked about distribution of PPE, or personal protective equipment, and Wallace said the PPE allocated to Upshur County DHSEM is earmarked “specifically for first responders and health care agencies.”
In other business, the commission opted to leave one of its previously tabled items tabled. That agenda item was a proposal submitted by the Buckhannon-Upshur Youth Environmental Club to renovate and repurpose the dilapidated amphitheater at the Upshur County Recreational Park in Tennerton. Commissioners said they want to give new parks and recreation director Adam Brumley a chance to weigh in prior to making a decision; the presentation and associated proposal was initially tabled at the commission’s July 29, 2021, meeting.
The next regular commission meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 23 in the Upshur County Courthouse Annex.
Prior to adjourning, the commission also:
- Approved the transfer of Timothy Bennett from fill-in court security officer to part-time security officer at the request of Upshur County Sheriff Virgil Miller.
- Approved a second request from Miller requesting the employment of Megan Bailey as tax deputy, effective Oct. 4.
- Approved a Request for Proposals for janitorial services for a variety of county-owned properties. A mandatory pre-bid conference will take place at 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4, and sealed bids must be received no later than 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13 at the Upshur County Administrative Annex, 91 W. Main St., Suite 101 in Buckhannon. Proposals will be reviewed at 9:30 a.m. at the commission’s Oct. 14 meeting.
- Received word from Gov. Jim Justice that the county had been awarded a STOP Violence Against Women grant in the amount of $23,332.
- Received correspondence from former Upshur County Development Authority Director Rob Hinton announcing his resignation from the UCDA Association Board of Directors, effective Sept. 10. The association is an entity distinct from the UCDA, which is now headed by executive director Jennifer Bostian.
- Received correspondence announcing the resignation of Tennerton Public Service District board member Elmore Tenney, effective immediately. The commission then approved the appointment of Michael Hyre to the Tennerton PSD Board, effective immediately; Hyre’s term is set to expire July 31, 2027.