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Eastern Panhandle briefs

January 07, 2007

Berkeley Co. OKs transport rate hikes

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -The Berkeley County Commission on Thursday unanimously approved an increase in transport rates charged by the county's ambulance authority for certain services.

The increase does not apply to the $50 household fee residents are charged for the county's emergency ambulance service. Authority board President Charles R. Hall said the proposal was an attempt to shift the cost burden to the people who use it, and also to increase the amount of reimbursement from federal programs.

Hall said the bulk of the $100 increase charged for advanced life support service provided to a patient will be paid by insurance companies when the hike is put into effect Feb. 1.

There still will be no charge for basic life support services if residents have paid the $50 household fee, Hall said.

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Most of the insurance companies provide more than $350 of coverage, and the increase will bolster the amount of reimbursement the county receives from Medicare, a federal insurance program for older residents, Hall said.

Center opening adds to maintenance duties<.h4>

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The opening of the first phase of the Berkeley County Judicial Center increased the workload of the county's maintenance department by about 80,000 square feet, facilities Director Jay M. Russell told the county commissioners Thursday.

The judicial center at 380 W. South St. has more than 100 lights that are mounted more than 20 feet from the floor, Russell said.

The additional climbing and height requirements prompted Russell to ask the Berkeley County Commission on Thursday for approval to purchase a single manlift for $7,245. The purchase unanimously was approved.

Commissioners vote on panel assignments<.h4>

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Commission on Thursday decided which commission members would serve on the more than 15 committees, authorities and commissions that deal with everything from ambulance service to economic development in the county.

One of the more closely watched commissions is the Jefferson County Planning Commission, which regulates home construction in the county.

Jim Surkamp, who has called for tighter controls on home building in the county, was elected to the planning commission, edging Dale Manuel for the job.

Later in the meeting, Frances Morgan asked Paul Raco, executive director of the county's Department of Planning, Zoning and Engineering, if he could supply her with the number of building lots that have been approved for the section of the county east of the Shenandoah River.

Morgan said she wanted to know how many lots there are because she considers that area to be environmentally sensitive.

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