Forney is Commission President for 2024; county approves staff & expenses

by Kate Shunney

Sean Forney will serve as President of the Morgan County Commission for 2024, following a vote during the commission’s organizational meeting on Wednesday, January 3.

This will be the third year that Forney serves as the top county representative.

Sean Forney

On Wednesday, Commissioners Forney, Bill Clark and Joel Tuttle also approved their holiday schedule of courthouse closures for 2024, and their schedule of monthly meetings for the year. This year’s meeting lineup will include extra sessions to canvass the primary and general election results.

Commissioners also approved their board assignments for this year.

Forney will serve on the Economic Development Authority board, the Emergency Medical Services Board, the 911 Advisory Board, the Fire Board, Local Emergency Planning Committee and the Towing Advisory Board.

Commissioner Clark will serve on the Planning Commission, Travel Berkeley Springs, Workforce Investment Board, Region 9 Development and Planning and the Home Consortium.

Commissioner Tuttle will serve on the Parks & Recreation board, Farmland Protection Board, Community Corrections board, Unsafe Structures board, the Juvenile Crime advisory board and the Extension Services board.

Animal control truck & staff

Commissioners then approved the transfer of a 2019 Dodge Ram from their facilities department to Animal Control. Facilities director Randy Stotler said the sheriff’s department had given them the Dodge, which the county repaired, but it doesn’t get used much.

“Animal Control does need a vehicle,” Stotler said. He told commissioners it would cost $3,996 to outfit the truck with a cap and stenciling for its new use.

In other Animal Control business, county officials approved adding a full-time position to the department at a pay rate of $12.02 per hour plus benefits. Officer Megan Houck said they will be one officer short for several months this spring for family leave, and the current staff of three plus one per diem helper can’t juggle the 24/7 service to county residents.

“If we have four people, we can always have two people on duty,” said Houck. She said that’s safer for the officers, who get threatened regularly on the job.

Commissioner Clark suggested one answer to the staffing problem is to have the Sheriff’s Department handle Animal Control calls after hours, but other commissioners noted the Sheriff’s Department is already understaffed during some evening hours as it is.

Courthouse lighting

Commissioners approved an expense of $4,335 to replace some of the outdoor lighting on the courthouse. Facilities director Randy Stotler said it’s impossible to get replacement parts for the original lights. Stotler got a quote for $30,000 to replace all the outdoor lights around the courthouse with LED lights.

County officials opted to have the flagpole lights and ground lights replaced for now, and said they would revisit the other fixtures later in the year. Commissioners said they hear from the public if the flags in the front of the courthouse aren’t properly lit at night.