Woodward County Commissioners heard from Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer at their Monday meeting.
Lehenbauer addressed the board regarding accessibility to the Woodward County Event Center Safe Room.
According to Lehenbauer, a comprehensive emergency plan had been written for the event center which needs to be reevaluated and put into each rental contract. This will make it the event organizer’s responsibility for designating a safety officer.
“I think the best thing to do is improve communication. We always recommend three ways of getting the notification on severe weather. I tell people sirens should be an absolute last resort, they're intended to notify you, if you're outside to go inside,” Lehenbauer said. “The communication piece is more important than anything else. It's getting people out of that building.”
Ways of improving communication are with a weather radio, weather alerts for the phone, listening to the radio, and having an emergency plan in place, according to Lehenbauer.
“My recommendation would be to put that [responsibility] on whoever runs that event. Put it in the contract, here's what you have available. We are going to review our emergency plan with you before you rent the facility,” Lehenbauer suggested. “You [the renter] make the call. But make it early enough, because it's on you, not on us, to do it. And I think that would be probably the smartest way to go about this.”
Lehenbauer’s concern with public use of the safe room is for the people who would be left out vulnerable to being hit by blowing debris, instead of seeking other protected areas.
“Safe rooms are a contentious issue nationwide, I mean here and all over. The recommendation is you need to be able to access a shelter within two minutes walking distance,” Lehenbauer said.
Most tornadoes, 90 percent of the time are rated at an EF1 or lower, which has 110 mile an hour winds, according to Lehenbauer.
“Most homes will take that. It's safer to stay home,” Lehenbauer explained. “Most of time, it's better to stay home, and shelter in place. And that's why we always say on the radio, [stay] away from doors and windows in a small interior room.”
Tabled for district attorney review is a warranty deed with the State of Oklahoma acting through the Department of Transportation for lots 15 through 28 inclusive of block 1 of Cline Park second addition to Woodward. District Attorney Christopher M. Boring said the state is looking at other options, such as limited use or temporary easement, rather than purchase which the board had already approved. This item was tabled again for more information on how the state wants to move forward with use of the land.
In other business, commissioners
• Accepted the resignation of Woodward County Fair Board member Brenton Mayfield.
• Approved the treasurer’s quarterly report, county officers monthly reports for June, and determining maximum monthly highway expenditures.
• Approved financing through Shattuck National Bank for a 2020 Mack GR64F Truck purchased off of State Contract by District 2.
• Approved an interlocal agreement with the Town of Sharon.
• Approved a letter in support of the Oklahoma Emergency Response System Stabilization and improvement revolving fund proposal from Woodward County EMS.
• Approved membership dues for O.E.D.A. for the 2020 fiscal year and County Officers and Deputies Association for fiscal year 2019/2020.
• Approved a resolution authorizing the County Treasurer to credit to County General Accounts the interest monies accrued from county highway funds.
• Approved a blanket resolution authorizing the treasurer to invest available Woodward County funds in various financial institutions at the treasurer’s discretion.
• Approved a resolution for disposing of equipment for the County Sheriff of three tasers to be junked.
Commissioners opened six-month bids for county wide tires and track hoe services. Tire bids from T&W Tire out of Elk City and Direct Discount Tires out of Stillwater were tabled for tabulation.
The only bid for track hoe services was accepted from Cross Timbers Construction.
Commissioners toured the Northwest Oklahoma Regional Juvenile Detention center with Western Plains Youth & Family Services, Inc. Executive Director Kevin Evans. New paint, flooring, chair covers and LED lighting has been installed giving the place a distinct face-lift. New appliances have also been installed in addition to several maintenance and repair issues to the building were attended to. Evans said the first contractor started 45 days ago and the last one finished Monday morning.
Evans said he was hopeful they would be able to take children this week.