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Heated Exchange at Somerset Commissioners Meeting

In Somerset County there was a heated exchange at the County Commissioners meeting over salaries for their 9-1-1 Operators. People at Tuesday’s Commission meeting said the situation scares them to death. Residents as well as Emergency Workers were in attendance to express their concerns.

Things were visibly heated on Tuesday at the Somerset County Commissioners meeting. Union Representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, George Critchfield says a portion of the County’s positions are vacant. He also listed other concerns with staffing at the 9-1-1 Center.

But Commissioner Pamela Tokar-Ickes pushed back, saying everything he said was not entirely accurate, and that that information was supposed to be confidential. Board Chairman Gerald Walker followed this by saying that they will not be negotiating solutions while at the meeting.

Critchfield and Commissioners say they blame each other for holding up the increase in pay for 9-1-1 Staff. They say there was a memorandum of understanding between Commissioners and the Union, about the 9-1-1 Staffing situation, but it had been modified multiple times in the past year.

Chairman Walker says the understanding agreement presented to the Union quote: “Was specifically for recruitment and retention.” This while others want things resolved to keep the 9-1-1 Center properly staffed. Dan Dink Dively, the Assistant Chief of Shanksville VFD saying at the meeting: “Everybody needs to get their head out of their hands, and work to resolve it quickly, because it’s bad. Everybody’s life in this room and everybody in this county’s life hangs right there. That’s our first line of defense.”

Somerset County Solicitor Christopher Gabriel was at the meeting virtually. We reached out to his Office for comment, but have yet to hear back.

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