EMA hire, new wellness policy, anti-beaver campaign highlight March commission actions

The Blount County Commission approved hiring a new Emergency Management Agency (EMA) director, effective March 31, at an approximate salary of $43,000. The new director is Don Roybal, who will transition to the Blount County job from the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency. He replaces former Blount County EMA director Max Armstrong, who recently retired. Wellness screenings

The commission also approved a policy to encourage all county employees covered by the county’s health insurance policy to participate in annual wellness screenings. The policy is being implemented so the county can qualify for substantial discounts in medical insurance premiums, provided at least 80-percent of employees participate in the screenings. The discount amounts to $138,000 annually for the county. The discount provision also results in savings on individual employee premiums, if the 80 percent participation requirement is met.

Currently, all employees pay 15 percent of the cost of their monthly insurance premiums, with the county bearing the remaining 85 percent of the cost. For employees who participate in annual wellness screenings, that practice will continue. For employees who do not participate, the new policy provides that the proportion of the premium to paid by the employee will increase to 20 percent of the cost, with the county proportion decreasing to 80 percent. That change will result in an increase of about $48 monthly in the employee’s cost for family plan coverage, or an increase of about $20 a month for individual coverage.

Free wellness screenings have been arranged by the commission for employees wishing to participate. There is also a provision for the screening to be completed and attested to by an employee’s personal doctor, if he or she so prefers. Screenings must be completed before the May 31 deadline. Beaver control

The commission approved a resolution and accompanying legal documents related to removing beavers where their dam-building activities jeopardize county roads and rights-of-way.

The process first requires a finding and designation by the commission of a legitimate public purpose – damage to public property – for removing or eradicating the animals. A license agreement must then be executed with the owner of the property to be entered to gain access to the area where the beavers have created drainage problems. Finally, a service agreement specifying the scope of services to be performed and other details must be executed with the contractor who is hired to remove the beavers. Other resolutions

The commission passed resolutions:

•commending EMA director Max Armstrong for his 22 years of service as he retires. The resolution recognizes Armstrong’s contributions in creating the Blount County 911 system, the naming of all Blount County roads, the planning and development of the new 911 dispatch building, as well as his support over the years to volunteer fire departments, his mapping expertise, and his work in professionalizing emergency management functions and activities in the county.

•commending the Oneonta Lady Redskins and their coaches on winning the 2013-2014 4A basketball state championship.

•designating April 26, 2014, as Jacksonville State University Day in Blount County. The resolution recognizes the role the university plays in the county with more than 500 alumni living here, more than 100 Blount County students currently enrolled at the Jacksonville campus, and more than 40 high school seniors having applied for admission for the 2014 fall term. The county alumni chapter will host an event on April 26 at Clowdus Cabin north of Oneonta to welcome incoming students and to raise funds to provide scholarships, which will be matched by the university to supplement the scholarship fund. Jacksonville State president Dr. Bill Meehan will attend the event. In other actions, the commission:

•designated April 19-26 as People Against a Littered State (PALS) cleanup week. During this week, teams of volunteers sponsored by various organizations will pick up trash along roadsides throughout the county, with those collecting the greatest weight winning monetary awards.

•approved the District 4 proposed paving schedule; roads to be paved include Junk Road, Tim King Road, Walls Road, Hollingsworth Road, Deavers Town Road, Pine Mountain Trail, Cornelius Road, and Shadow Lane.

•approved a recommendation by human resources manager Christa Reno to designate Colonial Life Insurance Company as administrator for the cafeteria benefits plan for Blount County employees. Reno said the company provided administrative benefits not offered in the past and would create a good working relationship.

•approved a request from the Blount County- Oneonta Chamber of Commerce to sponsor a table for $200 at its March 18 annual banquet.

•approved a request from the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP) to sponsor a table for $100 at its May 8 annual banquet.

•appointed Tim Frye to serve a four-year term on the Blount County Merit Board; Frye had served the remaining months of the term of Johnny Hudson.

•tabled the appointment of a replacement for Palisades Park board member Marsha Beam, who resigned with more than two remaining on her term.

•authorized the county administrator to amend the Department of Human Resources rental agreement for its quarters in the Frank Green Building to include the room number for a newly-created office, to meet state requirements.

•rejected the herbicide bid opened March 7 due to a defective bid invitation; authorized the county engineer to re-bid the herbicide contract.

•received county attorney Scott Barnett’s report that the commission could amend an earlier action taken to bid out solid waste collection countywide, and instead elect to bid out such services for Districts 2, 3, and 4 only. Action will be deferred until later on solid waste services for District 1. Disposition of sealed bids for surplus equipment

District 1– 1999 Ford F150: bid rejected; will be offered for sealed bid again

District 3 – 2000 Chevrolet Malibu: bid accepted ($300) – bids on all other listed equipment rejected and will be placed on govdeals.com: tool box, Dodge Ram 2500 truck, Tuthill pumps on fuel tanks, 12,000-gallon fuel tank, 6,000-gallon fuel tank

Engineering – all bids accepted: 1998 Ford F350 with crane ($2,351), 1994 GMC Suburban ($500), 1997 Ford Taurus ($275), 1999 Dodge truck ($502), 1997 GMC Jimmy ($400) Engineering matters

•Approved request of county engineer to create new position of licensed land surveyor with compensation not to exceed $43,000, to be defined as an hourly position and positioned within an existing pay scale range.

•Authorized chairman to execute a contract for $7,800 for “rope access services” with Applied Technical Services for required federal structural inspection of covered bridges, to be paid from fund 112, countywide (road and bridge fund). Quorum and future meetings

A quorum of three commissioners was present at the Monday business meeting. District 2 commissioner Carthal Self was absent due to illness. Present were District 1 Commissioner Allen Armstrong, District 3 Commissioner Dean Calvert, and District 4 Commissioner Gary Stricklin. Commission Chairman Chris Green conducted the meeting.

The next commission work session is Thursday, April 10, at 9 a.m. The next commission business meeting is Monday, April 14, at 9 a.m. A special meeting will be held Thursday, March 20, to open resubmitted bids for herbicide application. All three meetings will be at the commission boardroom in the courthouse in Oneonta.