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Fiscal Court discusses voting and first responders

Questions surround radio status of new school police force

By: Amy Oakley
Carter County Times

The Carter County Fiscal Court had a regular meeting on Monday, May 8 to discuss several departmental reports among various agencies in the county.

Carter County Sheriff Jeff May was the first to report in the meeting and although he did not have any numbers to give this week, he gave his appreciation to fellow first responders in the county. After a deadly wreck on the AA highway in Grayson that took the life of 42-year-old Philip Konopka, May and others extended their gratitude.

“That fatality was pretty bad the other day. It was one of the worst ones I’ve seen in a long time,” May said.

Judge-Executive Brandon Burton immediately added to May’s comments of gratitude and appreciation as well.

“I want to thank a couple of road department guys too. They really stepped up in a pretty bad, critical time and did everything they could,” Burton said.

Discussing the wreck seemed to leave an emotional toll on May and other members who were involved.

“That’s what we get paid to do, but that stuff don’t go away,” May said. “If you’ve ever been a firefighter or anything like that, I appreciate your service cause this stuff just don’t ever leave you. Just keep us in your prayers.”

Earlier in the meeting, May gave an annual update on the FADE Task Force Resolution. According to May, there are only three agencies in Fade right now that include Carter, Russell and Raceland. These three agencies are working closely with the DEA.

“We had a search warrant last night that got 7.7 grams of meth and just a little bit of heroin,” May said.

May needed the FADE Task Force Resolution to be reapproved for the next fiscal year. It was approved unanimously by the members of the court.

After the sheriff’s report, executive director of Carter County EMS Rick Loperfido addressed the concerns of the county needing a standing emergency room.

Loperfido had a meeting with one of King’s Daughters Medical Center vice presidents and ER liaison about the possibility of putting in a free standing ER in Grayson. Several meetings have occurred in the past but with the merge of UK Healthcare, Loperfido is hopeful that progress will be made to cut down transport times.

“If we could put a free standing ER with like 10 beds, we could transport people there versus taking them all the way to Ashland or St. Claire’s,” Loperfido said.

Loperfido’s proposal is to turn the nursing complex in Grayson that serves as a current urgent care into a freestanding ER. This would not be the only stand-alone ER in the tri-state area as St. Mary’s in Ironton has one.

Ten percent of Carter County EMS calls come from the urgent care in Grayson.

“We need something so that we can cut down these transport times and get trucks back on the road cause mileage is killing us on the trucks,” Loperfido said. “I don’t have anything under 100,000 miles and it’s hard to keep trucks running.”

Loperfido mentioned that the average call time in Carter County is around two hours. An entrapment call last Friday on the Interstate took 45 minutes to get a person cut out. Although call times are long, he acknowledged the hard work of his crew.

“Shoutout to our guys. They do a pretty good job and sometimes I get on them, but they’re right there and jump right in just trying to get patients taken care of,” Loperfido said.

Carter County EMS is also struggling to keep paramedics and EMT’s due to them going to other

places that make more money. They have a limited budget and are actively trying to find alternative methods to keep employees.

In addition to Loperfido’s report, May added that the county needs a 24-hour phlebotomist for DUI testing instead of driving to Ashland and being held up for two to three hours.

Carter County Clerk Mike Johnston followed after with his report. He first started by addressing his disappointment and concern of the upcoming primary election.

“There’s an election going on and nobody’s voting. I mean it’s sad,” Johnston said. “We had two voters on Friday and two voters today.”

Johnston reminded people that it costs the same amount of money to vote for 500 people as it does 10,000 people. Although aggravated, he said that early voting will start on Thursday at the Olive Hill Post Office and Grayson courthouse. It will last through Thursday, Friday and Saturday for anybody who wants to come in and vote.

“We didn’t send out 100 mail in absentees and usually an election is about 600,” he said. “You gotta vote guys.”

He also expressed gratitude for the newly painted parking lot.

“I want a big shoutout and thank you to you all for that because parking is a headache here,” Johnston said.

Director of Carter County 911 Joe Lambert went last to discuss his report. According to Lambert, he was approached by RD Porter, the school system’s chief of police, about adding Carter County Schools to the county’s 911 dispatch.

If this were to be passed in motion, it would go in effect within the next school year. Porter hopes to start off with three officers using the frequency, then eventually leading to every Carter County School having an officer inside.

“The court needs to decide if we’re willing to dispatch for them and if we would be charging them a fee, a dispatch fee, and what that fee would be,” Lambert said.

May said that Porter had approached him and planned on “piggybacking” off of the Sheriff’s Office (SO) channel until they could be added to the dispatch frequency.

Despite May allowing them to use the frequency, there was still apprehension and unanswered questions in the courtroom.

“They want to piggyback off of the SO channel and in the event that something does go bad in the schools, we’ll be the first ones to hear it,” May said.

“So we’re going anyways, it’s not a bad thing, but you all have to make that decision whether or not we’re gonna do it for them and what the monetary value is if we do it for a year, are we gonna charge them something,” he said.

The court plans to host a special meeting later this week with Porter, Lambert and May to discuss answered questions and logistics about adding Carter County Schools to the 911 dispatch.

Contact the writer at news@cartercountytimes.com



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