Berkeley County briefs

December 20, 2008

County might have broken federal confidentiality law

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Berkeley County government officials on Thursday unknowingly released the name of an employee who was supposed to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in apparent violation of a federal law that prohibits such a disclosure.

The individual was named in copies of purchase order logs provided to four media organizations that attended Thursday's Berkeley County Commission meeting. The individual will not be identified by The Herald-Mail.

"Clearly, the name of the employee should not be reflected (in the log)," county commission legal counsel Norwood Bentley III told finance division staff of Berkeley County Clerk John W. Small's office that compiles county bills for the commission.


The commission typically releases a copy of pending expenses at its regular weekly meeting.

The naming of the individual in apparent violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) also concerned human resources director Alan J. Davis, who was aware of only two other such evaluations, but the individuals were not identified.

Fire hall project financing approved

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A $2 million bond package to build a new fire hall for the Hedgesville (W.Va.) Volunteer Fire Department was approved Thursday by the Berkeley County Commission.

The financing for the long-awaited project requested by the Berkeley County Fire Service Board is being made possible by Susquehanna Bank and will not result in an increase in fees paid by property owners for fire response services, said Donna Cross, fire board office administrator.

After the first payment of $202,000, Cross said payments gradually will decrease over the 21-year span of the financing note.

The volunteer fire department is contributing private money for construction of a second floor to the building, officials have said.

- Matthew Umstead

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