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Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

Commission focuses on county jail

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

BENTON - Hardware and software for the new Scott County jail were the focus of Tuesday's Scott County commission meeting.

Commissioners met with representatives from the sheriff's department to discuss the jail's computer needs as well as a grant that will help cover the cost.

The sheriff's department was approved to receive half of a Local Law Enforcement Block Grant from U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice, after the Sikeston Department of Public Safety was advised they must split the grant with the sheriff. "It was May or June before we knew we we're eligible," said Lt. Jim Chambers.

The sheriff department's share will be $16,472 with a $1,830 local match, according to Lt. Brenda Schiwitz.

The money will be used toward purchasing the new booking software for the jail and for additional computer stations at the new facility.

"Some of our existing equipment is 5 to 7 years old," said Chambers. "Some of it will work (with the new software), some of it won't." He estimated the new jail will need 10-12 computers.

Department officials have decided on software from Information Technology Inc. of St. Louis which most of the other law enforcement agencies in the area use.

ITI has been in business for over 30 years and its software has a good reputation, according to the sheriff's department officials. "Nobody had anything bad to say about it," said Schiwitz. "It's easy to operate, easy to maintain. It's really user-friendly."

The cost to purchase the program is $57,000 with upgrades not included.

A service subscription option, however, would only incur a one-time cost of $4,600 and a monthly charge of $1,100. Updates to the software would not cost anything.

The monthly cost is scaled to the department's size, according to Chambers, but Scott County will probably not change enough to affect their price.

The subscription terms only require three months at a time.

Officials hope to hire the additional staff required for the new jail in time for them to participate in a 40-hour training session scheduled for November.

Commissioners adopted a resolution supporting the establishment of a Major Case Squad comprised of Scott County, New Madrid County and Sikeston law enforcement agencies.

"It's because of all the drug-related homicides we've been having," said Sgt. Jerry Bledsoe. "We're in the initial stage, trying to get it established."

Bledsoe said he has worked several of the homicides. "This will be a good deal," he said.

"It gives you additional resources when you need them," Schiwitz agreed.

In other Scott County Commission business:

* Mike Dumey, interim executive director for the Bootheel Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission, met with commissioners to acquaint himself with county officials.

Dumey said all the chambers of commerce and economic development officials from BRPC member cities and counties working together could "really make a difference in this six-county area."

"We need to get the county commission more involved," said Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel.

* Scott County Economic Developer Jim Schwaninger briefed commissioners on a regional forum on technology-based economic development he attended Thursday at the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center. "It was really interesting," said Schwaninger.

He said one of the key points discussed during the forum was that the county should concentrate on developing its strengths and "cluster" its efforts in that direction. "Find what you're really good at and build on that," said Schwaninger.

Resources such as higher education, which might have innovations that could improve the goods or services, should also be explored, he said.

Schwaninger said the unused talents of retired residents should be tapped to serve on county boards and commissions as well.

* The county received $190,644.36 in sales tax for August, up $11,594.44 from last year, according to Commissioner Jamie Burger.

"It was a pretty good comeback month," said Burger. "We were pleasantly surprised."

The county is presently down a total of $9,995.21 as compared to last year's sales tax receipts at this time, Burger said.