Winter storm stops county
by Stephen Scalf
Monday morning, Feb. 16, Nicholas Countians awoke to a world dressed in white as one of the largest single-day snowfalls in recent years hit the entire region.
Rather than the typical freezing rain turning to a wintery mix, as usually seen in Kentucky, the arctic air was already here, the moisture coming up from the Gulf of Mexico.
As a result, the snow was a dry powder, which increased its volume, turning approximately 0.58 inches of liquid precipitation, according to readings taken at Nicholas County's Mesonet weather station, into over eight inches of snow.
The snowfall, which began prior to 4:00 a.m. in most parts of the county, eventually tapered off by approximately 6:30 p.m.
Shortly after 5:00 p.m., Nicholas County Judge/Executive Mike Pryor declared a state of emergency, asking all people to remain off the roads unless absolutely necessary.
The frigid temperatures hovering just below 15 degrees rendered the county's salt supply basically useless in combatting the snow, the conditions too cold for the salt to melt the snow.
School was cancelled both Monday and Tuesday, and then again on Wednesday as the National Weather Service announced a front with even colder air was moving in, bringing with it another one to three inches of snow, and the lows falling to -18 degrees by Thursday, not including windchill.
Things are predicted to warm up on Saturday, bringing that familiar wintery mix, with temperatures dropping below freezing again until late next week.
Ambulance director requests contract change
During the fiscal court meeting on Friday, Feb. 13, ambulance director Nelson Sewell made a request of the Court.
“I would like to ask the Court to be put under actual payroll so that taxes are taken out, instead of being paid as an independent contractor on a 1099-MISC form,” Mr. Sewell explained. “No change in salary, no insurance, because I have insurance at my full time job. Also, when I need to jump on an ambulance, because I’m currently a contract worker I don’t feel particularly secure about malpractice insurance if something was to happen, as sue-happy as everyone is.”
Mr. Sewell indicated there should be no extra cost to the county, and he would be willing to make sure that he worked fewer hours than the amount needed to qualify for retirement to alleviate that concern. He pointed out that if this change is made, it would also protect him under Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo) for worker’s comp, reminding the Court that being a first responder is an inherently dangerous job.
“This change is just to protect me and my family.”
Mr. Sewell pointed out that while ambulance runs are not part of his normal duties, there are times when he must fill in when employees call in sick.
In addition to his request to be added to the payroll, Mr. Sewell asked for increased funds of $1,500.00 a year for vehicle maintenance and insurance, noting that he uses his personal vehicle to accomplish many of his duties as ambulance director.
Judge Pryor pointed out that adding Mr. Sewell as a employee would indeed cost the county more in terms of social security payments. He also had an issue with paying the additional money for vehicle maintenance as Mr. Sewell did not have written records showing his expenditures.
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