SHARE

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.”