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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Communities benefit from inmates' work

Friday, December 7, 2007

BENTON -- Scott County commissioners don't mind using inmates to help with cleanup tasks in its communities. But, they need to have the necessary equipment to do so.

At Thursday's regular meeting, Bill Bailey, mayor of Commerce, met with commissioners to discuss using inmates to rid trees from the river line, which he noted is a great asset to the county.

"We haven't had a good flood recently enough to kill them," Bailey said, noting that once the trees reach a certain size, there are restrictions to keep them from cutting down the trees. There are about 300 trees, Bailey said.

"We'd love to use our inmates," said Dennis Ziegenhorn, commissioner. "But I think with what you're asking, we don't have the equipment."

However, there are some programs in the region when inmates work and do have that equipment, he noted. Ziegenhorn contacted the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston, and commissioners are looking into contracting with them to do the cleanup project.

Also on Thursday, the 911 Advisory Board met for its monthly meeting. There, commissioners told members of plans to develop a regional 911 call center out of the county, as well as shut down the county's Miner call center on Thursday.

According to a letter shared with members that was sent to Miner Mayor Betty Barnes, the equipment there is "overdue for upgrades and replacement estimated at between $45,000 and $50,000 and associated additional annual fees in excess of $11,000."

It's also necessary to combine the services to take advantage of all services, including the ability to digitally map wireless and landline 911 calls, accept and locate VIOP (internet phone) calls and record all the information on a digital recording system. Plans are to deactivate the equipment and reroute calls beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Since Miner now serves as a backup for the main station at Benton in case the system shuts down, one member of the advisory board asked what will serve as a backup once Miner's system is deactivated.

It's not a big problem -- in fact, it's only happened a couple times in the past two years, according to advisory board members -- but it is still a factor that had not been considered.

Joel Evans, county developer, said he would look for an answer. Thursday afternoon, he said he is exploring an arrangement with the City of Sikeston, as well as other possibilities.

Committee members said they are on board with making the county the hub of a regional 911 call center. Commissioner Ron McCormick pointed out that if the system has more money, that will also enable staff to take much-

needed training sessions.

The members also agreed that a board will need to be comprised. They OK'd the idea of asking the opinion of a lawyer in the county of what the best route would be to fill the board -- through appointments or elections.

Also at Thursday's meeting, the commission made more board appointments at the meeting, too.

Appointed to the SB-40 Board was: Sheila Eftink of rural Sikeston, to a three-

year term. Reappointed for three-year terms were Gerald Settles and Donna Tippy, both of Sikeston.

"We greatly appreciate this, as a commission, that people volunteer to serve on these boards," said Ziegenhorn. "I'd like to continue to hear from people that have an interest on serving on any board in Scott County."

Commissioners also continued to look over and discuss insurance premiums from bids opened at Tuesday's meeting. "We're looking at some options and it's taking a bit longer than we thought," said McCormick.