Problems with the county’s emergency alert system during last week’s severe weather prompted the County Department Heads to review alert policies at the Hillsdale County Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday.
Chairman Mark Wiley expressed concerns about the county’s system of alerting residents to school and workplace closures during bad weather, such as last Monday.
“Monday was a bit of a mess,” he said. “Radio stations were reading off school closings of all kinds. I think we need to update our policy.”
He said that although all those registered with the program Code Red through the website alerts.hillsdale.us should get an update on closures during bad weather, he believes the county should create a call list to inform employees of closures.
Information Technology Services Director David Holcomb agreed, adding that many in his department did not get a message through Code Red.
Wiley, after saying that deposits can be required of citizens requesting Freedom Of Information Act reports, called for a clear, written policy regarding rules for FOIA deposits.
“I think a policy about that should be written and put on our website, so everyone’s fully understanding,” he said. “As a county, we need to have a written policy in place, so there are no discrepancies from one person to another.”
Under statute, the first two hours of labor put into fulfilling a FOIA request are free but a person can be charged for copy materials, photos, and any labor over that two-hour period.
During Holcomb’s report, the board discussed issues with the county’s computer systems. Holcomb said his department is working on moving the sheriff’s office records to a web-based system so that those in the office can access information from home.
He alerted the commissioners that he was updating contact information on the website.
After the department heads’ reports, an open hearing was held, in which representatives from the Village of North Adams requested annexment of three properties in Hillsdale County to North Adams. The annexment, which is to be promoted for business and industrial development, was approved without dissent.
At the end of the department heads’ meeting, Caswell told the department heads about budgetary problems.
“We’re overspending this year,” he said. “There will have to be cuts next year. Keep that in mind going forward.”