Wednesday, January 24 was the first meeting of the year 2015 for the Clay County Commission, as well as the first meeting for newly elected Commission President Greg Fitzwater. Sitting between Commissioners Linkinoggor and Tucker, Fitzwater called the meeting to order and began progression through the two page agenda. The first fourteen action items passed quickly, stirring little discussion among the group. The majority of this business addressed the estates of the deceased and the appointment of those responsible for closing affairs. An update was approved for the Clay County Emergency Operations Plans, but no details regarding the changes were revealed publicly.
The Clay County Public Service District Board had an open position after Greg Fitzwater was forced to resign due to a conflict of interests, leaving the County Commission to name an individual to fill the vacancy. After being tabled during the last December meeting, the County Commission was expected to use the three week period to actively investigate the four possible candidates and name a worthy person to the board. Lynn Drake, Susan Bodkins, Earl Elliott and Jean Ratliff were all interested in serving the PSD and the latter three were in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting. Commissioner Linkinoggor’s motion to appoint Lynn Drake to the position caused quite a stir amongst various members of the audience. Public Service District employees as well as one of the other candidates verbally protested the appointment of Drake, implying that she was not the best person to fill the vacancy. Feeling they had made the right decision, Commissioners Linkinoggor and Tucker voted for the appointment of Lynn Drake to the PSD Board. Contrary to what we’ve seen in the past, Commission President Fitzwater contested their choice and voted against the motion. Law only requires that the majority of the commissioners’ votes, or 2 out of 3, be alike in order for a motion to pass. Lynn Drake will serve as the newest member of the Clay PSD board until September 1, 2018.
In light of the recent increase of minimum wage, the Clay Ambulance Service was forced to update their pay scale. Ambulance Director Bev King requested that all employees receive a $1 per hour increase in wages, but the commissioners were not agreeable with that amount. Instead, an across the board .75 cents per hour wage was approved, bringing ambulance driver pay to $8 per hour, EMT pay to $9 per hour and paramedic pay to $11.25 per hour.
The group adjourned and traveled to the town of Widen to hold a public auction of the former Widen Community Center. The building and .79 acre lot it is situated on have sat vacant for many years and holds no real value for the county. The starting bid for the property began at $10,000 and quickly moved in $500 increments until reaching a final selling price of $16,000. Terri Bennett, who owns the property adjacent to the lot, held the winning bid.
The meeting convened following the auction. The Clay County Commission will meet again on Wednesday, January 28 at 10:00 am.