The new Emergency 911 equipment at the Scott County Jail's dispatching center was turned on Monday afternoon, Sheriff Rick Walter said during the regular County Commission meeting Tuesday.
"They're up and running," Walter said. "So far it's going pretty good."
Relocating the county's E-911 dispatching operation and merging it with the Scott County's Sheriff's Department dispatching at the jail is a project initiated right after Walter took office at the beginning of the year.
"This is one of the things I campaigned on last year," he said.
Walter said no single person can claim credit for achieving the move, however, as many people were involved.
Commissioner Jamie Burger said having one emergency call center is a better use of tax dollars and should result in better dispatching.
Walter confirmed the county will now save money "instead of duplicating services."
And merging the dispatch centers will make some responses faster. For example, when a fire was called in to E-911 before the change, dispatchers would first have to notify the appropriate fire departments and then place a call to the sheriff's department.
"Now if there's a fire, we are going to know immediately," Walter said.
Walter said before the move, his department would sometimes have to call the E-911 center to get directions.
Other times multiple law enforcement agencies would respond after an incident had already been resolved by the first agency to arrive, wasting valuable resources. "This is going to eliminate all that," Walter said. "Now everybody knows who is responding, who is going to what call."
The merger was also combined with an equipment upgrade, the cost offset by $72,100 in State Emergency Management Agency grant funding.
"We were on the verge of having to upgrade anyway," Burger said.
Joe Burton, Scott County E-911 administrator, said the new equipment can locate where cell phone calls originate and show the locations on a map in addition to land lines.
Burton said the equipment can narrow down the location of cell phones that don't have GPS chips to at least a one-mile radius using triangulation. Cell phones with the GPS chips can be located within meters.
In other business Tuesday:
* Betty LeSeure from the Missouri Department of Economic Development presented information to commissioners and Dan Fetherston, administration manager for the SEMO Milling Company, on paperwork required by the economic development grant and action fund loan.
The grant and loan will provide capital to help SEMO Milling Company set up operations at the SEMO Port.
At the end of the project, there must be documented verification that 80 jobs were created. LeSeure discussed documents that must be filled out by applicants to document the creation of jobs and suggested ways of doing the paperwork to help SEMO Milling stay in compliance.
LeSeure recommended the county transfer the grant and loan funds into a non-interest bearing account so the county doesn't have to later write a check to the state for accrued interest.
She also offered advice on documenting the fulfillment of SEMO Milling's investment obligations.
* County Developer Joel Evans reported on his research so far on satellite phone service.
Some providers offer inferior products at a significantly lower price, according to Evans. Walter said he tried one of the cheaper companies and had to wait five minutes to get a signal.
Some systems bounce signals off towers - towers which may not be available in some emergency situation, commissioners noted.
Walter said the county needs a minimum of three satellite phones: one for his department, one for the county's emergency management, and one for the presiding county commissioner, a position which occupies the top of the local chain of command in the event of an emergency.
If the county can afford a fourth satellite phone, it should be placed with the county highway department, he added. "I can't do any good if I can't get there," Walter said.
Officials will try several satellite phone systems before drafting a request for proposals. Coverage/service will be considered as well as price when the bid is awarded.
In the event of an emergency, county residents won't care if the county was able to save a few hundred dollars but are unable to communicate, Walter said.
"The ability to transmit and receive - that's what we're after," Burger said.
* The county coroner has asked Evans to look into the possibility of getting a grant to purchase a cooler for the short-term storage of corpses.
The cost would be about $6,000 but the cooler could possibly be a source of revenue as most surrounding counties don't have one available, Evans said.
Walter said room for the cooler and an examination area could be set up in a secured area of the jail's basement.
* A tire roundup for the county is in progress.
Passenger tires without rims may be dropped off at the county highway department shed on the corner of Mack and Chester streets in Benton Saturday and Jan. 7.
* Standardization was the main topic at a geographic information system workshop Evans attended last week.
During the workshop there was consensus that counties need GIS administrators to maximize utilization of GIS systems, Evans said.