County considers solutions for communication problem

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
On Monday the Marion County Commission committed to solving the radio problems of emergency personnel who need to talk to each other, but delayed a final decision in committing to where solid waste will go.

Commissioners also met early for Judge Michael Powers to swear in Commissioner Bob Hein for another term, and for Commissioner Howard Collett to succeed Hein as commission chairman.

A dozen members of the County Communications Advisory Board representing law enforcement departments, emergency medical personnel and fire departments from across the county, with Sheriff Lee Becker as spokesman, met with commissioners.

Becker reviewed the continuing problem of emergency personnel not being able to speak between departments and areas during crises because of reception and equipment differences. Differences like part of the county being on VHF and part of it on UHF happened as departments added the best they could at times, he noted.

Since the county has no real radio experts, Becker has been checking with radio consultants who can help establish a reliable system including one out-of-state person who quoted $165 an hour.

But since then, Becker said he has found a Topeka consultant
who will set up total county radio specifications for $60 an hour at an estimated completion price of $9,600.

Becker said board members talked with their emergency counterparts in Wabaunsee County where the consultant already designed a system, and were told his work was good.

Commissioners said they wanted to make sure emergency personnel could all talk to each other, and that the money could be budgeted from sales tax revenues. But they asked Michele Abbot-Becker, communications director, to see if grant money might help pay for it.

Abbot-Becker said the next federal weapons of mass destruction grant might buy much of the radio consultation.

Commissioners told representatives of Waste Management of Kansas that they wanted to delay a week before possible approval of a contract that would set tipping fees for solid waste from Marion County in Topeka at $19 a ton with 50-cent increases added annually over five years to give David Brazil, transfer station manager, to check into rates at Salina and Perry.

WMK representatives said they would indemnify Marion County from any future liability on any future actions such as federal super fund listing on environmental actions, and they carry all bonding and insurance required by Kansas and that is available.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to exempt the county transfer station from property tax just as is done for other county and public property.

Commissioners approved paying a property and liability insurance increase of 15 percent that follows national trends, an increase from $105,000 to $120,434. Collett and Hein both noted there was little other choice if the county is to stay insured.

JoAnn Knak, emergency medical services director, reported 88 ambulance calls for December, 23 from Hillsboro, 36 from Marion, 24 from Peabody and 5 from Tampa.

There were three first-responder calls from Goessel, two from Lincolnville, two from Durham and two from Burns.

She said the current EMT class is at eight students.

The commissioners designated the Marion County Record as the legal publication for Marion County for 2003. Publisher Bill Meyer said he would include the legals free in two other publications.

David Brazil, planning and zoning director and sanitarian, reported on more than $4,000 in application and permit fees received through those departments in 2002.

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