BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission on Thursday voted to approve a resolution declaring Upshur County a ‘Second Amendment sanctuary.’
The resolution says that the commission “is concerned about the passage of any law containing language that would unconstitutionally infringe upon the rights of the citizens of Upshur County to keep and bear arms” – especially given the deep cultural and historic roots of hunting and responsible wildlife and game management.
The resolution also says the commission intends to oppose, “within the limitations imposed by law upon local governments, any unconstitutional infringement of the right of law-abiding citizens” to possess and bear arms “using such reasonable and legal means” as the commission deems appropriate.”
The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Commission president Terry Cutright said he’d received a multitude of feedback in favor of the Second Amendment sanctuary resolution.
“I have gotten more calls on this, in favor of being a sanctuary county, than anything else I have ever seen since I’ve been on county commission,” Cutright remarked.
Commissioner Sam Nolte said he had also received several emails about the resolution.
In an email to My Buckhannon, Upshur County Administrator Carrie Wallace said the resolution was placed on the agenda at the request of several residents and local legislators, who spoke with commissioners when they attended the County Commissioners’ Association of West Virginia meeting the previous weekend.
According to an article published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, more than 100 Virginia communities and counties have passed similar resolutions, declaring themselves ‘Second Amendment sanctuaries,’ following proposed gun restrictions recently passed in Virginia.
Wallace said Putnam County passed a similar Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution Jan. 14.
Nolte made the motion to approve and commissioner Kristie Tenney seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
In other Upshur County Commission news, the commission approved a request to acknowledge the Buckhannon Fire Department as a licensed emergency medical service Rapid Response Agency – although a non-transporting one – for licensing requirements.
Capt. Joey Baxa with the Buckhannon Fire Department attended Thursday’s Upshur County Commission meeting to ask for the commission’s approval to operate outside Buckhannon city limits.
“We’ve been looking at getting our EMS license for the Buckhannon Fire Department, and this is a non-transport service, purely just to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Baxa said. “We’ve grown extensively over the last almost four or five years.”
He said department firefighters mostly respond inside the city limits, but Upshur County EMS may page them for help.
“Essentially what we do is mostly responding inside the city limits to medical calls,” Baxa said. “However, we do respond by the request of Upshur County EMS outside the city limits. This also comes into play with motor vehicle accidents that have injuries.”
He said the department did not initially realize they needed the blessing of the county commission to operate outside of city limits when they were working toward receiving their licensure.
“The city can give us the blessing for the city limits, which they did a long time before we started our accreditation process,” Baxa said. “In order to be a licensed Rapid Response Agency separate from Upshur EMS, which will probably happen by the end of this coming week, we will actually have our license, we will not be able to operate outside of the city limits without the blessing of the county commission.”
He said being unable to work outside the city limits would impact their ability to help Upshur County EMS and other fire departments.
“If they need assistance, if they don’t have a crew, they won’t be able to page us to operate outside of our district if there were vehicle accident, and we could possibly be prohibited from providing care outside of first aid, and just have to do traffic control,” Baxa said.
He said they are asking to continue operating as they always have in the past.
“That’s where the letter is stemming from is basically so we can just continue to do what we’ve been doing, non-transport, non-billing, and we maintain all of our own equipment,” Baxa said.
He said with their new license, they will be responsible for their own training, maintaining certifications and the West Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services will inspect the department as well as Upshur EMS.
“Basically, it’s going to hold us more accountable and that was recommended by the state [Office of Emergency Medical Services] because of how much we have grown,” Baxa said.
Upshur County Commission President Terry Cutright said Baxa had already answered one of his questions about the proposal.
“When you said it was non-billing, that answered my question because the county commission by code is responsible for having emergency services –which is the Upshur County EMS – for our county, and I wouldn’t want to hamper their finances because they are self-sufficient,” Cutright said.
Baxa said that should never become a problem.
“I’m sure that there will never be an issue as long as the good working relationship continues,” Baxa said. “You do have to remember, we have to maintain supplies. If those supplies get expended, and we’re not getting them replaced, that could be an issue in the future. I don’t foresee it to be, but it could be.”
Commissioner Kristie Tenney made a motion to approve their request and commissioner Sam Nolte seconded the motion, which was approved unanimously.