All eight Hancock County schools to have PROs

NEW CUMBERLAND — All eight Hancock County schools will have a prevention resource officer for a full term for the first time following an agreement approved by the Hancock County Commission on Thursday.

The agreement approved was with the Hancock County Board of Education, which consists of the PRO assignments for the 2019 calendar year, and included this year was a PRO at the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center.

Sheriff Ralph Fletcher said the agreement is a continuation of the school board’s attempts to continue providing a safe environment for all of their schools, but stated that nothing has changed with the other schools.

“This is something that has been ongoing,” Fletcher said. “Nothing has changed, we haven’t added any to it. I don’t see any changes that would warrant me to bring it to (the commission’s) attention.”

Responding to a question from Commissioner Joe Barnabei, Fletcher said this agreement would mark the first time that all of the county’s schools will have a PRO on duty.

“We’ve had one and had been growing ever since,” Fletcher said. “This is the last building that they have that has students in it. We decided that it was in the best interest of our children to place an officer in that particular building also. So yes, every school building in Hancock County is now manned by a PRO officer.”

Fletcher said this now brings the amount of PROs to five from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and two from the Weirton Police Department, which has worked in conjunction with the sheriff’s office and the school board to continue to create a safe environment for its students.

“Two of it is still operated by a grant, and the rest of it is being picked up by the entities supplying the officers as well as the school board assisting,” Fletcher said. “So it’s a joint venture, I guess you’d say.”

Barnabei commended the efforts of the law enforcement and school board, saying “I think that shows the cooperation from the entities involved that safety is a priority in the county.”

In other business:

¯ The commission tabled the third revision of the general county budget for fiscal year 2018/2019. Finance Administrator Karen LaScola informed the commissioners that she was still waiting on a final total for revenues in December, and that the information would be available at the next regular meeting.

As for finances, the commission approved their general county bills, which amounted to $208,963.57, with P-card payments totaling $11,713.40. Also approved was a $646.25 reimbursement check for Commissioner Jeff Davis for business travel expenses. The reimbursement was approved, 2-0, with Davis abstaining his vote.

¯ The commission approved the payment of accrued vacation time to former full-time 911 dispatcher Bettie Wade, which amounted to $5,067.34. Wade retired at the end of 2018, with her resignation letter accepted at the Dec. 13 meeting, but her vacation payout had not been calculated until her final day of work.

¯ Barnabei announced that the courthouse will be closed Jan. 21 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The next regular meeting will be 2:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at the commission meeting room at the Hancock County Courthouse.

(Rappach can be contacted at