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County reviews emergency procedures

PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Dec. 4, 2008) —Some emergencies such as the Pulaski County Sewer District’s sewage discharge are man-made and can be prevented. However, Pulaski County Emergency Management Director Lawson Smith told county commissioners during their Monday meeting that his duties include preparing for natural disasters and emergencies that can’t be prevented.

Proper preparation for ice storms, blizzards, floods and other weather phenomena can save lives, Smith said — and one major problem each year is that improperly maintained furnaces can cause fires or sickness due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

“We’re getting ready to gear up for the holidays and the cold weather with carbon monoxide and all that,” Smith said.

Commissioners told Smith that communication about emergencies should include telling people where to go for help if their power goes out.

“We’re back in the ice storm time of year and I would reiterate where all the shelters are located,” Smith said. “People always say, ‘I didn’t know, I didn’t know Crocker’s was wherever, I didn’t know Richland’s was wherever, so I would reiterate where all the identified shelters in Pulaski County are.”

Smith said he’ll have one resource this season that wasn’t present in earlier years: a paid assistant.

That person’s compensation won’t come from county funds, but rather from a special Federal Emergency Management Agency grant program.

“Starting today I got grant money to hire a person for emergency operations,” Smith said. “It doesn’t cost us anything in the county except for the phone bill.”

The new staff member will be taking FEMA training and will then have access to the full list of people who have been helped by FEMA in recent years which is three times larger than the number Smith said he has in his files.

“FEMA identified that we had 132 people who FEMA responded to in Pulaski County for the spring floods and back as far as the ice storm a few years ago,” Smith said. “We know about 46 people and we’re going to go back and talk to them and see if there are any other unmet needs.”

County Clerk Diana Linnebringer asked how long the grant lasts. Smith said that depends on type and number of Pulaski County’s needs.

In other business at Monday’s county commission meeting:

• Linnenbrinner asked commissioners what to do with large volumes of e-mail sent to her office by state officials inviting comments on legislation that’s been pre-filed by various state representatives or state senators that could affect Pulaski County. Commissioners asked her to print out only items that she believed would directly affect Pulaski County.

“We get stacks of them in here and it takes a Philadelphia lawyer to understand them after you read them,” said Commissioner Bill Farnham.

• Linnenbringer said she’s been asked by the Central Ozarks Private Industry Council to have the county commission appoint a member to their board.

“What’s that?” asked Commissioner Dennis Thornsberry, who said he wasn’t familiar with the organization and wondered if Pulaski County’s membership dated back to the county’s former membership in the Lake of the Ozarks Council of Local Governments.

“I guess we can put that out and see if anyone wants to be appointed,” said Presiding Commissioner Bill Ransdall.

• Commissioners decided to reject a single bid to pay for the planned Dec. 18 courthouse Christmas party, which was much higher than had been expected. The Christmas party is intended for all courthouse employees, not only those in the Road and Bridge Department who are under the commission’s authority but also other elected officials Circuit Court state employees, and other agencies in the courthouse such as the University Extension Service and the Soil and Water Conservation District.

“In light of the fact that this one considerably exceeds our budget, we will postpone our decision,” said Ransdall, who noted that the money does not come from the county’s badly depleted general revenue fund.

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