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Training costs for dispatchers is discussed

Friday, October 17, 2003

CHARLESTON - Training costs for Emergency 911 dispatchers at Charleston and East Prairie will be covered by the county.

Mississippi County commissioners approved a change in the agreement between the county and the cites during their regular meeting Thursday at the request of Jennifer Raffety, city attorney for East Prairie, and David Brewer, city manager for Charleston.

"It was adequate until they changed the law," Commissioner Homer Oliver said about the agreement.

Raffety said that in October 2000, Charleston and East Prairie agreed to provide personnel for 911 dispatching while the county agreed to pay for equipment.

However, in August 2001, the state passed legislation requiring 16 hours of initial training and 16 hours every two years of ongoing training for 911 dispatchers.

"The cities do not have any money in their budget to undertake this training," Raffety said, and requested an addendum clarifying that the county will pay for training while the cities will continue to pay hourly wages for personnel, including wages paid during training sessions if applicable.

Raffety also noted that the county receives 911 taxes and the cities do not. "The cities just don't have the tax revenue for this," she said.

County Clerk Junior DeLay reported there is presently $119,000 in the 911 fund. The county 911 fund pays about $25,000 annually to Southwestern Bell to lease the 911 dispatching equipment, according to DeLay. The money also goes toward replacing and maintaining equipment, he added.

Raffety said there are two option: sending dispatchers off for a training, or training them in-house using computer software.

Commissioner Martin Lucas said he believes the cost for the software is $300 per person. With five dispatchers from each city, officials agreed the cost of room, board and transportation while sending them off for training would far exceed the $3000 for software training courses.

Raffety said the cities would have no objection to using the software instead of live training. "I certainly think the cities would prefer that," she said.

Lucas suggested having someone at the Bootheel Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission get trained as a trainer and provide the service at Malden.

In other Mississippi County business:

* Commissioners adopted a plat for the East Prairie Industrial Park Subdivision First Addition.

The addition includes city-owned tracts to offer to businesses as well as a new water tower and blacktop, according to Lucas.

This adds 51.77 acres to the existing 25-acre industrial park.

* DeLay said requiring utility companies to obtain a flood plain development permits before starting services is helping the county keep track of new construction.

"That really works," he said.

* The cost to have tires hauled off from the county shed that were illegally dropped off there by a county resident will be $800. The resident who left the tires will be responsible for the cost.

Commissioners also discussed an area where people have illegally dumped in the county.

Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg said the county can not go clean it up and it is too late to catch the people dumping with a camera. "We can't go on private property," Blumenberg said. "It's already there and needs to be cleaned up."

Residents living near illegal dumps are concerned about the rats and snakes the dumps draw, Lucas said.

Blumenberg advised finding out who owns the property.

* Blumenberg said he has seen rubber-tired pneumatic rollers for sale at around $20,000 but as the county will likely put no more than 10 miles per year on it, they should seek out a machine close to the $8,000-$10,000 range.

The roller is the last piece of equipment the county needs to implement its chip-and-seal blacktop restoration program next year.

* Commissioners agreed to purchase another 1,000 gallons of oil to seal one more road, the courthouse parking lot and the walking tracks in East Prairie and Charleston.

Lucas said Miller Road "looks brand new" after being sealed with the oil.

* David Bizzell of Bizzell Lawn Care has viewed the area between the courthouse sidewalk and curb and will respond with a bid by the end of the week, according to DeLay.