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County once again dealing with lightning damage

By John Estridge, Editor

There is an old adage that lightning does not strike the same place twice.

Union County proved that adage is incorrect as the radio tower outside the jail was struck for the second time in a few years.

It knocked out computers in the jail as well as radios and other equipment in the dispatchers' room within the jail.

According to Union County Sheriff Dale Dishmond, it wiped out most of the dispatch's consoles, took out the router in the jail along with some computers and the monitors as well as security cameras.

Jeff Mathews, who has been working on the county's computers for free for some time, has been working with the different departments to try to get everything fixed, according to Dishmond.

Dishmond said all of the equipment was on surge protectors. Officials said surge protectors do not help when there are direct hits. The insurance company wants to have the radio tower grounded to help reduce the incidence of future strikes, commissioners said at a later meeting.

First priority for the jail was to get the Internet system up where the deputies and jailers can book people in. Security cameras were up and running again as soon as possible after the strike.

In other business, the county council:

*Talked about the 2020 budgetary process.

Union County Auditor Cheryl Begley said Thursday, July 25 she will meet with a representative from the Division of Local Government Finance (DLGF). She said she is entering the budgetary figures turned in by county department and office heads to the Gateway system with the state.

A budgetary workshop will be held on Thursday, Aug. 15 following the regular monthly council meeting.

Council member Chris Rosenberger said the workshop will have all of the council members sitting around one table in the meeting room. In that way, all of the members can be heard. Council president Richard Blank said the workshop will be recorded so there will be no misunderstandings coming out of the workshop.

*Heard from the highway supervisor Jeff Bowers.

He said money was appropriated in 2019 for a dump truck, but the department needs a road grader more than a dump truck. Also, he said he can purchase a new grader at less expense to the county than buying a used one, and the cost for a new grader is around $190,000. The county had $149,800 appropriated for the dump truck.

The current road grader is a 1988 model.

Blank said council can transfer money from the dump truck line in the budget to the grader line. Then, when the time comes to purchase the grader, do an additional appropriation for the remaining money needed to pay for the grader.

Commission president Paul Wiwi said the county will keep the present grader.

*Bowers and Wiwi also talked about the durapatcher the county is going to purchase from the Town of Liberty. It has few hours on it, and the town wants $20,000. A new one would cost $60,000. The county already has one durapatcher but having two would allow the county to be able to do more work.

*Approved a $300 transfer of funds in the Treasurer's Office to pay for the Drop Box, which is outside and allows residents to pay for their property taxes during off hours at the courthouse.

Blank said the Drop Box is a great asset for the county.