County updates 911 towing policy, approves expenditures

by Kate Shunney

Morgan County Commissioners approved an updated emergency towing policy, giving preference to tow companies that operate primarily in the county.

The vote to adopt the changes came at the December 18, 2019 commission meeting.

County officials must create and update the towing policy periodically. It spells out how towing companies are called in a “next in line” rotation to remove disabled vehicles from emergency scenes.

Towing operators had previously told the county that local companies should have a preference for the rotation over out-of-county companies. The tow companies have to meet minimum equipment requirements to be on the county’s list of common carriers.

Officials said if a local company doesn’t have enough towing equipment or the right kind of heavy equipment needed at an accident scene, other companies will be called in.

The new policy will be in effect starting today, January 1, 2020.

Cat spay grant match

In other business, commissioners voted to provide a $1,000 match to the Humane Society of Morgan County for a grant that helps pay for the spaying and neutering of feral cats. Leslie Gresh of the Humane Society said the Trap, Neuter and Release program pays for a veterinarian to spay and neuter and vaccinate stray cats at a cost of roughly $80 per animal. Gresh said the county money would match a grant from the Two Mauds Foundation. Commissioner Joel Tuttle suggested the county look at building the cost of a spay/neuter grant match into the Animal Control budget for future years.

Computers, fee accounts

Commissioners approved an expenditure of up to $5,000 to purchase seven computers for the Sheriff’s Tax Office.

Officials also approved shifting $10,000 to the EMS Board from a county account. The county takes a 6.5% administrative fee from the Ambulance Fee to process the payments from county taxpayers and pursue overdue bills. Officials said there is roughly $70,000 in that account.

Bids and tower lease

The county will seek a second sealed bid for restoration work on a stone wall along the edge of Warm Springs Run next to the courthouse parking lot. The wall has been tilting for years and the county received $50,000 from FEMA flood funding to repair the wall. No bids were received from a first advertisement for the work, so the county will run an ad seeking bids a second time.

Commissioners were asked to review and approve a lease between the Morgan County Commission and Morgan Wireless for the company to place broadband internet equipment on the Purslane Mountain communication tower.

Commissioner Tuttle said Morgan County Wireless could pay no tower rent for the first three months, $100 per month for months four through six, then $200 per month for the remainder of the year. The five-year lease includes a 5% increase in monthly rent each year, and has the option for two five-year renewal periods. Morgan Wireless is a Berkeley Springs-based broadband internet service provider.

Board appointments

Commissioners appointed Vince Kesecker to the Morgan County Farmland Protection Board for a four-year term to end on December 31, 2023.

David Fink was appointed as a member of the E911 Advisory Board, with a term to expire on January 1, 2023.