BENTON -- Scott County officials are continuing to struggle with how to make the county's 911 system more efficient.
At Thursday's regular meeting, Miner Police Chief Roger Moore met with commissioners to discuss the system in place in Miner, and reactions he has heard from residents about the possibility of shutting down that station due to the costs of keeping it open.
"They're afraid they are going to have delayed service -- that's the biggest concern they've brought to me," Moore said. However, since the ambulance shed is in Sikeston, it wouldn't take any longer, he pointed out.
Another concern is the loss of the "warm, cushy feeling" people have when they call Miner instead of the county dispatchers, Moore said.
The Miner dispatch was originally set up as a backup to the main headquarters in Morley should it shut down. However, the equipment in Miner is now so antiquated compared to the upgrades at the main dispatch, it can't provide backup anymore, said Joe Burton, emergency management director.
The center receives about 15 calls "in a good month," Moore said.
"The best way to handle 911 in this county is to have one center, not all over the place," Burton continued. "It's just not economically feasible."
Miner would actually receive better service if the calls came to the main dispatch station because it has mapping and better equipment, plus there is one less transfer for the ambulance to be dispatched, Burton noted. He also suggested that the Miner dispatch location could stay, but as a substation of the main location. "The calls will actually come here, then the equipment looks at it and puts it on a line down to Miner," he said.
Burton didn't know what the cost would be for that, but assured it would be cheaper than upgrading the equipment in Miner.
"I just don't want people in Miner to feel that they're being shorted by the county," said Jamie Burger, presiding commissioner. "We have to think about what does the best service for everybody."
Burger recently spoke with Miner Mayor Betty Barnes and county and Miner officials are working to find the best solution.
They have a rough decision ahead, Moore cautioned. "If you pull it out, Miner residents are going to be mad," he said. "But if you go down and try to fix it, you three are going to be mad because it's going to take a lot of money to fix it."
Also during the 911 Advisory Board meeting, Sheriff Rick Walter mentioned he would like to have recordings on phone lines in his department, an issue that has been broached before. Commissioners said they need to move forward on that issue quickly. With the budget crunch, they suggested the Crime and Restitution fund be responsible for those fees, to which Walter agreed.
Walter and jail administrator John Nelson reported there was a small fire Tuesday night, which started with towels in the dryer. The only damage sustained was in the dryer cell, and the commercial dryer will need to be replaced. Some of the sheetrock was cut out to check for heat, so that will need to be repaired as well.
The incident apparently happened when the corrections officer took the trustees back to their cells to lock them down. "It was a matter of a few minutes," Walter said.
They are exploring the possibility of improving the exhaust in the basement. "If anything like that happens again, we don't really have any way to get it out," Walter said.
Joel Evans, county developer, presented commissioners with the mechanics'/
materialmen's lien he has prepared for reimbursement of expenses for mowing, trash pickup and other upkeep of the Forrest Hills Memorial Gardens Cemetery near Morley.
In March, the county assumed responsibility for the cemetery, which had been abandoned by its owner, Mike Graham and Associates of Houston, Texas. The state attorney general's office is in negotiations with a buyer, Dale Birk of Jackson.
The lien is for $5,707.97, the total amount of costs incurred by Aug. 28. Additional charges will be filed later, Evans said.
Total income from the cemetery, including the sale of plots, totaled $4,145.49.
"So we're still running a little short," commented Dennis Ziegenhorn, commissioner.
In other business:
* Commissioners began reviewing bid proposals for the drug screening tests that have been included in the county's personnel code. Five bids were received.
"We want it in place by the first of the year," Burger said.
* The commissioners are invited to the bridge summit meeting scheduled for Sept. 17, and plan to attend, along with the sheriff.
"We want to see what our options are to help out," Ziegenhorn said. "This is something that's been a thought for many years for people, but there's probably never been a better time because of the problems with bridges."
The bridges are important, Ziegenhorn continued.
* County Clerk Rita Milam gave an update on charges and fees involved in getting an extra phone line set up in County Collector Mark Hensley's office to use for faxes and credit card statements. She will work out the details with Hensley, who has offered to pay for some of the costs from his maintenance fund.