PHOTO: Pam Wilson, Fort Payne Health Sciences teacher, with the DeKalb County Commission, and Hannah and Curtis Tucker, who won the state CERT competition! (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)
By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor
FORT PAYNE, Ala. — (Full Video at the Bottom) After District I Commissioner Shane Wootten led the meeting in prayer and the minutes were approved, the DeKalb County Commission recognized two students from Fort Payne High School who went above and beyond in a program to learn about emergency preparedness. Mrs. Pam Wilson, Health Science teacher for Fort Payne City Schools, mentored the team and was present at the meeting to talk of their dedication and accomplishments.
"Before we get started with our regular agenda this morning, we want to recognize the Fort Payne High School CERT team," said Commission President Ricky Harcrow.
The acronym CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. CERT is a nationwide program organized by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). According to the FEMA website: "CERT educates individuals about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT volunteers can assist others in their community following a disaster when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT volunteers are also encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking an active role in emergency preparedness projects."
"These young people who are here today, at the direction of Mrs. Pam Wilson, are here to tell us about their program and then Mr. Clifton will conclude the presentation," said Harcrow.
Wilson said of the team: "I'm very proud of these students, (Commissioner) Westbrook was instrumental in helping my program also at the high school. They were in a competition, they had to learn things for the competition, but I believe this competition they were in is very important to the community, because it is a community team and it does teach them to help out in disasters in their own community. Curtis Tucker and Hannah Tucker are brother and sisters, first time I've had a brother and sister team."
"They competed originally with 30 teams back in November, had to take take some tests, preliminary tests, and they were chosen in the top ten, so they went to state," said Wilson.
"They went to state, and they beat out all teams and got number one in the State of Alabama, in the CERT competition. Which allowed them to go to the international competition this summer, we just got back from Orlando, and out of a over 100 teams they were chosen to go to the second round and competed. Unfortunately, they didn't place in that but I'm so proud of them and their accomplishments," Wilson explained.
DeKalb County EMA Director Anthony Clifton said of the accomplishment: "It's a really good program. We've been participating in it for some time now, both at the county and city level. But Fort Payne City Schools really got behind the program and did well. This is not their first time being in the winner's circle; they've been there several times, but I believe this is the furthest they've gone."
"But your efforts, the commission allows us (to) support them in a few ways. The CERT Program is Community Emergency Response Team, it's something we offer through the EMA for everybody," said Clifton. "It's a 20 hour class that we offer that anyone can take. What it's intended to do, is to make citizens more aware of how to take care of themselves and their neighbors in the event of a disaster. And what we've found is, just like anything else, if we can get to young folks, and get them to buy into the system, it really goes a long way towards that education down the road. It makes them much more resilient community members."
"These folks have worked very hard and it's a good program. We want you to know how much we appreciate the commission working with us. The City of Fort Payne works with us and Mrs. Wilson does an excellent job leading this group, and we really want to thank her for her efforts in this," concluded Clifton.
Other items addressed in the commission meeting:
- Tom Broyles, Director of the DeKalb County Road Department, updated the commission on the department's herbicide application and roads that the department is "reclaiming." The department also recommended hiring Tyler Guffey as a part time crewman for District III. The commission hire was approved. Broyles also discussed purchasing "tailgate spreaders" and "asphalt distributors" to need less manpower for paving. The commission decided for Broyles to "inspect and evaluate" the proposal before proceeding with the purchase.
- DeKalb County Revenue Commissioner Tyler Wilks updated that they were finishing up the final settlement to send to the state. The revenue commission also hired a new clerk for the Rainsville office. The commission selected Tonya Andreas to fill the position.
- DeKalb County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Michael Edmondson asked to hire David Stanley as a part time deputy and Perry Brooks Smith as a part time dispatcher. The commission approved both requests. During the Sheriff's Office portion, Administrator Matt Sharp informed the commission that Ashley Hubbard of Crossville had filed a lawsuit against DeKalb County for wrongful arrest.
- The commission accepted Garbage fee exemptions, which must be approved yearly.
- Rural Public Transportation recommended the commission Greg Welsh and Donnie Lee Vaughn hired as substitute, part time drivers for the Rural Public Transportation program. The commission approved the request.
- The commission approved an amendment for the Cherokee-Etowah-DeKalb (CED) Mental Health board that formalizes the selection and appointment of board members.
The next meeting of the DeKalb County Commission will be held on Tuesday, July 11 at 10 am in the DeKalb County Activities Building.
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