Commission Agree To Purchase of E-Dispatcher System

The Monday morning meeting of the Mitchell County Commission meeting had only one official item of business on the agenda. Becky Schaefer, Director of the Communications and Dispatch Center, met with the commissioners as a follow up on the information she presented at an earlier meeting when she discussed the possibility of purchasing a text program as a secondary way of reaching all First Responders when a crisis situation arises in the county.

This system called the E-Dispatcher program would allow her to page out emergency information to members of the city and rural fire departments in the county, the Emergency Medical Service employees, rescue squad members and possibally the Mitchell County Sheriff and Beloit Police Chief if they choose to participate in the program.

At that time Schaefer explained the way the system works and the three options that would be available for those who choose to take part in the program to receive their messages. She had contacted most of the departments in the county and they too felt they could really benefit from being a part of the program and were very receptive to giving it a try. She stressed then that she would just be the administrator of the program and after it is set up each entity would have control of their member roster and sending out the messages relevant to their department although everyone in the program would be able to hear the messages.

The company selling the program offered a thirty-day free trial run in which they would set up the system in her department for a fee of $199 and equip the departments that take part in the trial with the components they need try the system. She estimated there would be around 164 people in the system depending on what Cawker City and the two other law enforcement entities she had yet to contact would decide to do.

All departments participating would pay their share of the cost, which would be around $360 a year prorated cost when divided by the eight or nine different participants or around $20 to $30 a month for each to pay no matter how many people they have in their department. This would amount to a total cost of $3,590 for the program. The commissioners agreed this sounded like a good investment but opted to start with the thirty-day free trial run at a cost of $199 to see how it worked out.

Recently Schaefer held a meeting of all county departments involved to discuss the implementation of this new program. She was able to reach all of those involved except the Cawker and Simpson repeater stations but explained she thought this situation could be remedied if she had the system hard wired. Commission Chairman, Jim Marshall, said the commissioners understood the need for this system and think it is a good idea. He said this would make the purchase of small pagers obsolete in the future and save the county money down the road. This program would allow the county to get the information out to all departments and allow them to respond quickly during a major disaster.

Schaefer said the system comes with the capability of sending a mass message to all departments at one time which gets everyone on board with the necessary information they need to respond. The commissioners asked that they be placed on the mass message only so they could get that information as well. The mass message capability would only add $10 to the cost of the system. The commissioners unanimously approved the E-Text System purchase and getting it hard wired so it would be able to reach the other satellite stations when necessary. Schaefer will move forward in getting the system set up.

Commissioners voted to remain a member of the North Central Kansas Local Environmental Protection Group (NCKLEPG). This is a group of counties that came together three years ago when the State dropped the funding of the program that regulates the installation of septic tanks installed anywhere in the county. The commissioners agreed to pay a $15,000 county yearly match. The program is self-sustaining by the cost of user fees paid in during the year.

Commissioner Mike Cooper discussed the County Internet Security Policy that has been talked about and moved this policy be added to the county employee handbook. This policy regulates unauthorized use of the Internet by employees on county owned computers during county time. The commissioners voted to instate the Internet Security Policy in the employee handbooks.

Commissioner Cooper brought out information discussed earlier in a closed session concerning a long time employee who will possibally be in need of a "Family and Medical Leave" from their employment with the county. He presented a form from the Kansas Department of Labor to be filled out. He moved that the county provide assistance to this employee and his family in case they need it. This will be at no cost to the county. Commissioners unanimously approved this action.

As has been their policy this past year the commissioners voted not to have a meeting on March 31, which is the fifth Monday the month unless there is an over whelming or pressing business to be discussed.

Commissioner Tom Claussen went to Topeka last Tuesday to testify at a Senate Committee meeting on Senate Bill #411 having to do away with the present form of County Extension Districts. Claussen said he felt the committee gave lip service to the issue and then did what they wanted to. A number of people there present to testify against this change and only the Senator who introduced the bill and one other person spoke to change it but as soon as those present left the committee voted five to one to do away with the districts. This will add one more item to the county budget to fund. Claussen feels the districts have been very conservative with their funds and sees no reason to change it.

"So Senators thanks for listening to us and I think you are doing a lousy job. I was very disappointed in the decision you made. In the next election when you go to vote check and see how your Senator is voting and vote for the ones who vote in the best interest of the people of Mitchell County," Claussen said.

Commissioner Claussen also attended the NCK Planning Commission meeting this week that covers eight counties in the extension district except Dickinson County. All three commissioners attended a water quality meeting Thursday night and heard an excellent presentation on how water issues can have an economical impact on the State of Kansas. Chairman Marshall attended a meeting at the NCK Technical College and heard positive information on what that the school is accomplishing.

The Commissioners and County Clerk Chris Treaster attended a Multi County Meeting in Osborne last Monday. Sherry Koster gave her yearly report on the North Central Kansas Local Environmental Protection Group (NCKLEPG). Some of discussion was on the pros and cons of passing zoning laws and the new gun regulations and how each county is implementing these.

Chairman Marshall attended the Mitchell County Hospital Board meeting on Monday night and said he was amazed with the work the good people on that board do. He thought the county had a lot of money in their budget but he didn't realize the large amount of money it takes to run this hospital or the work entailed in doing it. He was impressed with the job Hospital Administrator David Dick has done in the eight years he has been here. They are in the process of finding someone to fill Dick's position since he resigned to return to his home state.

Commissioner's Cooper and Marshall attended the Disaster Committee meeting Wednesday and took part in a Table Top Exercise based on a wildfire incident in Lincoln County some years ago. At the next meeting an electrician from Rolling Hills Electric will talk about electrical fires and Tornados will be the topic for the meeting after that. "This helps prepare us for the day that may come when we will have to deal with a disaster in this county and need to know how to deal with it," Cooper said.

The next meeting of the Mitchell County Commissioners will be Monday March 10th.

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