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Kanawha County poll workers will see their daily pay rise from $175 to $200 per day, following a vote Tuesday by the Kanawha County Commission.

The county-ordered pay raise was made possible by the unanimous passage of a bill, drafted by the commission’s staff, during the past session of the Legislature. Previously, only the state had the authority to set or cap poll worker pay, even though funds to cover the pay come from the counties.

“Since it’s the counties that are paying the poll workers, counties should be able to set the pay scale,” said Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, who made passage of the bill a priority on the county’s legislative agenda. “The Legislature agreed with us. Bipartisanship happens every once in a while.”

Shortly before voting to endorse the renewal of the $17.8 million public safety levy during the May 8 primary, the commission voted to allocate $747,000 of previously approved public safety funds.

All volunteer and municipal fire departments within Kanawha County will receive $10,000 from the allocation, as will all municipal police departments.

Also included in the allocation was a $50,000 sum provided to the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority to purchase bulletproof vests, which all county paramedics and emergency medical technicians will be required to wear while on duty.

“It’s a shame that it’s come to this,” said Carper. “These vests will be uncomfortable to wear. But we’ve had ambulances shot at and paramedics attacked, and the use of these vests will be mandatory to help protect them.”

The ambulance authority will buy the vests on a piggyback contract with Charleston police to save about 25 percent on the cost.

Bridge, road repair

At the direction of the commission, Kanawha County’s Emergency Management department has nearly completed a list of about 30 secondary roads and bridges across the county that are in dire need of repair to pass on to the state Department of Transportation.

These roads are in addition to the 30 secondary roads in the county that have been targeted for repairs by Gov. Justice’s Roads to Prosperity highway repair program.

“We want the public to know that a massive construction effort is going to get underway here very soon,” Carper said.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.