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Kanawha officials approve use of natural gas in county vehicles

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha County Commission voted Thursday to begin filling county vehicles' tanks with natural gas.

Kanawha officials studied the idea last year and decided to try out natural gas-powered vehicles. Natural gas is American made and cheaper than gasoline.

The commission voted Thursday to upgrade one of its existing vehicles to run on natural gas and approved the purchase of five or possibly six new vehicles that will be converted to run on natural gas.

The new vehicles will take advantage of a compressed natural gas station that IGS Energy-CNG Services announced it would build next to the Spring Street Foodland in the coming months.

The county will use a grant to convert a maintenance department Ford F-150 to run on natural gas.

It will also upgrade a sheriff's department Ford Expedition to run on natural gas. The county planned to purchase that new SUV anyway.

The commission also gave its blessing to the assessor's office, which is buying four new SUVs that it plans to upgrade to run on natural gas.

Finally, the commission hopes to buy a cargo van and upgrade it to run on natural gas.

Commission President Kent Carper said the van could be used to transport mentally ill patients to Preston County on one tank of fuel — a cheaper and more convenient way to handle the 400-mile roundtrip.

The commission also approved $98,000 to buy seven new devices that do automatic chest compressions.

Dr. David Seidler, director of the county ambulance authority, said the devices will help emergency responders revive or keep alive cardiac arrest patients. The devices, which cost about $14,000 apiece, press down on the patient's chest and free up a first responder's hands to try to get the patient air.

"We think it will help improve outcomes as far as cardiac resuscitation," Seidler told the commission.

The ambulance authority plans to place the devices in parts of the county that have the most cardiac-related calls.

The commission also gave $35,000 in grants to the county circuit court's drug court program, which officials said is helping addicts clean up their act and reducing the recidivism rate.

The commission, acting in its capacity as the Board of Equalization and Review, continued to hear complaints about property taxes.

Contact writer Ry Rivard at or 304-348-1796. Follow him at



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