Endsley: Pandemic has ‘bonded us closer’
COMO—Hopkins County Fire Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Endsley presented to the Como city council and residents present at the council’s regular meeting Tuesday an update on Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, which Como opted to have Hopkins County administrate.
“Como has also agreed to help the CPCISD to put several things like desk dividers for younger students…and several other safety things for the schools,” Endsley said.
Inside city hall, a cabinetmaker has already been approved to begin building and installing a front office counter where City Secretary Mary Doss sits. Once the new counter is completed, Endsley said a glass barrier will also be installed.
“We hate that COVID is what brought up our remodel. We’ve been talking about that for 10 years,” said Como Mayor Jerry Radney. “It’s just a way to protect our city secretary from the public and them being able to just walk around the counter with her handling money and so forth. Through this bad has been some good.”
Endsley agreed, stating Hopkins County was able through CARES Act funding to purchase self-contained breathing apparatus they distributed to the volunteer fire departments last week. Four of those were provided to the Como VFD.
“We did that for all the VFDs,” Endsley said. “Our reasoning was, if VFDs go out for first responding and there are patients in there that need assistance that possibly have COVID, they could put on a breathing apparatus, …putting on the best protection that we can.”
He then provided an update on COVID-19 numbers in Hopkins County and addressed the state reports of COVID-related deaths. Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) had reported 21 deaths in Hopkins County as of press time Friday.
“We’ve had an uptick in deaths in the county,” Endsley said. “We can’t pinpoint exactly what’s going on with that, but we’ll also be able to get a visual on that before long, to see if they come from our county or not. We’re still not totally understanding how we’re getting that reporting in there…. They [DSHS] don’t report to us [emergency management]; we can’t look at death certificates. The local health authority will be able to start with that in the next couple days. That comes from the MOU [memorandum of understanding from DSHS] to the local health authority….”
Endsley expressed optimism, however, citing a stronger bond developed between the communities of Hopkins County.
“One of the good things is building relationships with our cities and our county, and that includes Cumby, Como, Tira and Sulphur Springs. We’ve always had good relationships, but this has bonded us closer,” he said. “The city of Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County, at the very beginning, we merged our emergency operations centers together. We’re still continuing to do that. Our emergency operations center is running five days a week. If needed, we go in on the weekend; we’ve done that a lot since March. I’m looking forward to the day we get back to our normal, but until then, we are proceeding forward and doing the best we can do."
New Como VFD Chief Darrell Meeks reported ongoing recruitment efforts for anyone wanting to join the department. Currently, he said, Como VFD has six members.
Radney updated he had been informed that repairs had been made to the department’s trucks.
“They fixed all the pumper trucks that had leaks. No more duct tape,” he said. “There’s new fittings on the high-pressure pipe. … Everything looked good. Those guys have done a tremendous job.”
Carroll Meeks asked about what it would take to have a fire plug installed, specifically on the main road at Westgate Mobile Home Park.
“We have one [fire plug] on the 2-inch line [inside the park], but we don’t have one on the big main out on the street,” he explained.
Members discussed the use of plugs in the city that have been painted black, which indicates they are attached to a dead line, and moving them to areas that could use them on a live line, like Westgate, as Carroll Meeks requested.
Additionally, an emergency notification system was discussed as a need. The city of Como currently does not have a warning system.
“We do need one,” Radney said.
Endsley noted that the process of applying for grants to get funding for an emergency warning system had been started prior to the COVID-19 shutdown.
He added that the system would be set up so that someone at emergency management dispatch could activate it due to available technology that allows for simultaneous signals to be set off remotely. He also said that overall cost to Como would be between $40,000 and $50,000.
“We were almost there with one…. We could not get all the information together at the time. We were dealing with COVID and trying to get all that information for the grants. We thought we would have plenty of time to get it done, but it just didn’t happen. There will be other opportunities,” he said.