Generators generate electrifying discussion

May 9—CATLETTSBURG — A question over generators at the roads and emergency management departments at Paul Coffey generated a lively discussion at Tuesday's Boyd County Fiscal Court.

Judge-Executive Eric Chaney laid two scenarios out for discussion — installing an automatic transfer switch at the road department or getting a separate generator for Boyd Emergency Management.

According to Chaney, in order to activate the generator used to power both departments, it's a seven-step process he called "kind of sketchy." The transfer switch, which would be a large piece of equipment requiring its own concrete pad, would eliminate that process, allowing the department to be run at the flip of a switch.

Chris Hutchinson, the county IT man, said right now batteries at Emergency Management can keep that office running for only 30 minutes off the grid.

Here's the rub — a transfer switch would cost in the neighborhood of $60,000 to $70,000, while a separate generator for Emergency Management would cost only $46,000.

Commissioner Randy Stapleton said he thinks an automatic transfer switch at the roads department makes sense because the county roads department is a part of emergency response in winter storms.

"We need them to get on the road to clear them so ambulances and fire trucks can get to people," Stapleton said.

Commissioner David Salisbury said keeping the lights at Emergency Management is of paramount importance, while the roads department can get by with no lights until their generator kicks on.

"They can use flashlights and get the garage doors open manually," he said. "I'm not saying it's easy, but it can be done. It's the cheaper option."

Chaney said he's torn between the two proposals. He asked if grant money would be coming down the pike to Emergency Management to help pay for their generator.

Tim England, Director of Emergency Management, said he had no idea what kind of coin the department would get until late August, at the earliest.

Salisbury then called on "Ms. FIVCO" — Terri Branham Clark — to see if there were grant opportunities through that agency.

Clark said generators can be had through FEMA grants, but it's an 18-month to two-year process. She said the county would be unable to buy up front and have them reimbursed.

Stapleton said he wanted to look at the new budget that's around the corner and see what the county can do.

Chaney said if push comes to a shove, the road department could have money from the FEMA cash account to cover the switch.

A third generator, behind the Boyd County Detention Center, is another concern because in order to access it, jail officials have to ask CSX for permission to cross the railroad track.

That's another generator Chaney said the court will have to replace. Salisbury said inflation is a factor. Since talks began a few months back about the switch, the estimate has shot up by $20,000.

Chaney said the court will dial it in by next month and should come to a decision on which way to head.

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