Safety Discussion Ironies Stand Out from Saturday Huntington Council Budget Hearing;

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter

HUNTINGTON, WV (HNN) – The flash fire explosion and serious injury of a City of Huntington employee places a magnifying glass on choices for job elimination. One of the recently eliminated jobs was that of a safety coordinator.

Two of his responsibilities were holding meetings on safety topics with public works employees and walk through department inspections.

Discussion of the safety training contracting took place briefly at the Saturday morning, Feb. 26, budget hearing, as did concerns about safety of the city garage and concerns about a plan to multi-task building permit safety inspections.

Initially, during the maintenance expenditure segment , Brandi Jacobs Jones, director of Administration and Finance, told council the city had contracted out for safety training in electrical work and hazardous waste. “It’s cost effective and we have seen less accidents,” she said. The safety training contracts are with Marshall University and Ohio University (Southern).

According to an article in the Herald Dispatch, the past two safety meeting focused on defensive driving and electrical safety.

Although the city has spent $78,578 over the last two years on the garage roof, ramps, chimney and a new boiler, council chairman Mark Bates still inquired about garage safety Saturday , specifically “throwing good money away” [on repairs].

Motor Pool Supervisor Glendon Garrett, responded to Bates by stating that the biggest problem at the garage is the ramp “to get access to the upstairs.” He added that the smokestack and bathrooms needed work, calling it a “slow process.”

Williams expressed some fear related to school buses and snow removal. He spoke of a section of McCoy Road as dangerous when iced that is without guard rails. School buses travel that section taking students to the Huntington Museum of Art, he said.

Although he called his idea “pie in the sky,” he proposed that “if we’re going have an effective . snow removal program, we would want to have operational on street one truck per district with a blade dropping salt and bladding snow.”


Responding to available trucks for snow removal Garrett told council members the city has “other trucks” at the garage which are “dangerous for drivers to be in.”


Public works director David Hagley noted “safety concerns” regarding conditions at the old 14th St. West fire station, now used for traffic engineering. However, Mayor Kim Wolfe indicated that due to its historic qualifications exploration had started on turning it into a fire museum with private funds. Traffic engineering would be moved to another location.

Major changes are envisioned for the Inspections and compliance divisions of public works. Instead of having an inspector for a specific area (i.e. electrical, plumbing, building inspection), assistant public works, C.T. Anderson has proposed cross training.

“Other municipalities have three inspectors doing each job,” he said referring to Charleston. “If they are cross-trained, you need one visit instead of three.”

Anderson called this a “direction we want to head” in posturing for a one-stop business friendly permit shop.

Williams noted that “certain certifications” or licenses re required.

Anderson partially agreed stating a master or journeyman’s license often qualifies.

Williams had safety concerns regarding electrical certification.

“We are certifying that the work is meeting code. Would we have any legal exposure?”

City Attorney Scott McClure gave a general no relying upon the doctrine of government immunity. “Those are not issues,” he said.