Fire District anticipates audit finding


January 21, 2021

By Loyal Baker

POMEROY––State auditors will likely include a “finding” in their report, Chief James Cleveland informed Garfield County Fire Commissioners January 12.

Auditors requested additional information, Cleveland said, concerning a revolving account with a debit card that had been established at the former Pomeroy US Bank by former chief Kris Darby.

“Because it’s a government entity, you really couldn’t have it, so what the former chief did was put it in his name, the ‘Chief Kris Darby Revolving Account,’” said Deedee Weymouth, District Secretary.

“I can’t get those records,” she said. “I’ve tried two or three times and I’m unable to get it. I don’t have the card anymore; it’s been destroyed. It’s been closed, so we’re just going to have to take it from there,” Weymouth said.

“And they [auditors] know that…that we may not be able to get it, but I gave them what I had, but other than that, I cannot get any more information,” Weymouth informed Commissioners Terry John, Aaron Stallcop and Gary Bowles.

“That’s likely, in the end, going to be a finding,” Cleveland said, “however, there’s a downside, which is we don’t have the statements. The upside is he [Darby] was reimbursing that account from the county; all the invoices and everything that money was spent on is still accounted for.”

Commissioner Stallcop inquired what the potential repercussions might be? Cleveland answered that there may be findings on the Auditor’s Report that they may be required to answer. “The advantage that we have is we’ve already taken steps to correct it,” Cleveland said. “So even if we have those types of findings, we’re going to be able to say ‘that was then, this is now,’ this is what we’ve done.”

Cleveland pointed out that the meeting agendas now include the revolving account information so commissioners can get a “snap shot” of the financial picture in every set of minutes.

Weymouth said the paper statements from the Bank of Eastern Washington revolving account are available any time a commissioner might request to see them.

The proper revolving account now in place requires two commissioner signatures on every check.

Commissioners discussed the disposition of the surplus red ambulance, options including selling or giving it to Columbia County Fire District No. 1 in Starbuck, or to Lewis Clark State College in lieu of payment for E.M.S. instruction.

“We could donate it to the college and we could get some free E.M.T. classes, which would be more than we would get if we were just giving it away,” said Bowles.

Giving it to LCSC would provide the college with a box ambulance to give E.M.T. students practical experience working inside, and might possibly save the District one tuition valued at $1,200, Bowles said.

“It’s better than we can sell it for, not running,” Bowles said. “This way it would go to a place that would use it daily, if not weekly, in classes, and they would get the experience of the ambulance.”

If it were given to Columbia County District 1, mechanical work would be needed to get it running, plus equip the box with medical supplies, he said.

Stallcop suggested inquiring to see if there are other towns in the state looking for an ambulance.

The commission officially accepted the ambulance as a donation from Asotin County.

Commissioners instructed Cleveland to see if LCSC would make the District an offer.

Chief Cleveland informed the board that initial training on the Lucas Chest Compression System training was held recently. “Let’s hope we never use the thing,” said Chief Cleveland.

“That is a very cool tool,” Bowles said. The device can be quickly put on a patient on a gurney or on the ground, and mechanically administers chest compressions, freeing

Volunteer firefighters are undergoing training, Cleveland reported, maintaining six-foot separation and wearing masks. A two-year training program is being developed and Cleveland is researching the district’s Ongoing Training and Evaluation Program (O.T.E.P.), potentially dropping it to maintain basic skills in conjunction with other training. “There’s certain things that are required that we’ll make sure that we do, but we want to meet the requirements but no do the same thing every four months…that gets old,” Cleveland said.

Regarding officer assignments, Cleveland said they will be finalized by next month.

Several grants are being applied for to meet specific needs, Cleveland said.

A list of district personnel who want the COVID vaccine is being developed.

Stallcop asked Cleveland about requirements for receiving the vaccine, or tracking people who have been vaccinated.

Cleveland said until COVID-19 “is put to bed,” it will depend on what the state requires. “When it gets to a point where we can let people who’ve had the vaccine work without a mask, those who haven’t are still going to have to be stopped or wear an N-95 as a physical precaution,” Cleveland said.

Stallcop said his reading shows people who’ve previous tested positive for COVID will not be offered a vaccination.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is asking people who’ve had COVID should get vaccinated, Cleveland said is reading indicates, because depending on the level of symptoms experienced that will “alter how the antibodies react. I may be off on that, it’s just what I’ve been reading,” he said.

Other items in Cleveland’s report:

-The Junior Volunteer program is in place. Cleveland’s “biggest concern” would be protecting the volunteers from seeing “what they don’t need to see in the world.” Junior volunteers are required to have Advanced First Aid and CPR training.

-Working on being able to offer IV tech classes. Having a senior instructor will make District 1 a gateway to having an EMT program.

-Cleveland proposed switching to a voice over internet protocol (VOIP) telephone system once the fiberoptic network is connected to the Fire District. “We’ll have an actual business phone system in here,” he said. “We’ll actually save a ton of money over what we’re paying right now.”

Cleveland said he found four VOIP phone sets at a store recently, three new-in-box, available for installation, and there would be some cost to purchase additional sets.

-Purchase of a less-expensive printer for the office is being planned.

-Concerning a pending Medicaid reimbursement, Cleveland had no further updates, and he was informed it may be a few months away.

The Commission ended with a 20-minute Executive Session regarding potential litigation, and adjourned without further action.


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