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Officials looking to upgrade E-911 services for county

Friday, March 2, 2007

CHARLESTON -- Mississippi County commissioners will meet with the county's city leaders to discuss E-911 upgrades.

During their regular meeting Thursday, commissioners asked County Clerk Junior DeLay to draft a letter to arrange the meeting with officials from Anniston, Bertrand, Charleston, East Prairie and Wyatt.

The meeting will be to "see what everybody's specific needs are in order to get direct dispatching," DeLay said.

Under the current systems, 911 fire calls are sent to the sheriff's department which then contacts the appropriate fire department.

DeLay said the Insurance Services Office, which evaluates and rates fire protection provided by communities, apparently wants the sheriff's department "taken out of the loop" so 911 dispatchers contact the fire departments directly.

DeLay said they should be able to fund equipment purchases to enable direct dispatching for fire calls from the county's E-911 fund as it is 911 affiliated.

Commissioner Martin Lucas asked if ambulance calls are also routed through the sheriff's department. Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg said he thinks ambulance calls are directly dispatched.

In other business Thursday:

* Commissioners approved a letter confirming the county will dedicate $35,000 in labor and equipment operation costs as in-kind contributions for a Community Development Block Grant project in Anniston.

Blumenberg said commissioners promised the contribution in 2004 for the project which, if approved, would fund construction of a storm sewer system.

Commissioners speculated the project would probably be done with open ditches and culverts. "That's not enough money to run a big conduit," Lucas said, as a conduit would be "a major, major expense."

* Blumenberg said he thinks the county road and bridge department is back to running one grader at a time on gravel roads instead of two and that the department is tracking which roads they grade.

"And we're going to hire another man," he said. "When we get him we'll be running four graders. We used to operate five."

Blumenberg said he thinks the standing water and high water table are part of the reason roads in this area are in such bad shape.

"This is the worst year I've seen on the roads," he said.

"It's not just our roads," Commissioner Homer Oliver added, noting that state roads are also in bad shape.

* The county is currently holding 57 federal Immigration and Naturalization Service detainees at the Mississippi County Detention Center according to Blumenberg. He said the average number of ICE detainees in February was 51.9.

"I hope that continues," Oliver said.

"That's the most we've had over there for a long time," DeLay said.