County commits up to $90,000 for new radio system

The Marion County Commission voted Tuesday, May 27, to commit money from sales taxes or 911 funds for up to $90,000 for its part of fees to develop a county-wide radio communications system for emergency offices, including law enforcement, fire and emergency medical.

Michelle Abbott-Becker, communications director, said much of the money will be drawn through grants and homeland security allocations with the county share at 25 to 30 percent.

The new system would allow personnel from all such offices to communicate with each other throughout the county, replacing a system where each department has acquired its own equipment over the years that frequently is incompatible with that from other departments.

All three commissioners voted for the financial allocation, although Commissioner Leroy Wetta expressed concerns about it turning into “a wish list” instead of only taking care of legitimate needs.

Wetta said emergency departments perhaps should be responsible for their own expenses.

Wetta, asking about whether pagers couldn’t do for emergency medical technicians instead of radios, was assured by members of the communications advisory board that it is a more efficient use of EMT time and ability for them to be able to talk as they proceed through an emergency.

Commissioners Howard Collett and Bob Hein noted that the system would benefit all areas of the county.

Hein, in moving to approve the expenditure, agreed with advisory members that if the improved system saves one or two additional lives, “How do you put a price on human life?”

Hein said, “We need to have this.”

The commission opened the meeting with a 20-minute teleconference executive session with solid waste attorney with no announcement.

David Brazil, transfer station director, and Chad Gilbert of First National Bank of Hutchinson completed paperwork with the commission for semi-annual payments of $4,053.58 for 36 months, a total $24,921.48, for lease-purchase of scales for the solid waste transfer station in Marion.

Gilbert said he also could save the county money on financing road graders by taking the interest down from the 6.55 percent the county now is paying to a current 4.15 percent.

The commissioners approved County Attorney Susan Robson hiring Bev Jirak part-time this fall.

Abbott-Becker reported to commissioners that 17 percent of all incoming emergency calls in the county are made from cell phones.

The commissioners asked Abbott-Becker to continue researching charges other jurisdictions may have in place for expensive false calls from residential and commercial alarm systems including banks and ATM machine security systems.

County Clerk Carol Maggard said the county will save $10,000 by continuing a moratorium on the contribution rate for group life and liability through June 30.

Jan Moffitt, health administrator, reported another state cutback in aid that provides free children’s vaccines with costs now to be passed on.

The commission approved requests from Moffitt for approval of agreements with Morris and Dickinson Counties for WIC and dietician services performed by Marion.

Following an executive session with Moffitt, the commission granted her a 60-day unpaid personal leave-of-absence.

The commissioners approved a request presented by Susan Cooper, City of Marion development director, for a 10-year tax exemption on $240,000 in new equipment purchased by Marion Die & Fixture, division of The Bradbury Co., based on the company’s promise to hire three new employees.

Cooper said the employees would be skilled workers that have a starting pay rated at $22,750 annually. The company already pays $9,600 annually in property taxes, she said.

Dennis Maggard, road and bridge sign foreman, presented bids for replacement of signs, many of them lost through theft.

The low bid of $6,844.06 was awarded Signs & Blanks Inc. of Akron, Ohio. Other bids were $7,779.19 from National Sign Co. of Ottawa, $9,226.60 from Welborn Sales of Salina, $9,152.05 from DC Wholesale of El Dorado, $9,035.50 from Newman Signs of Jamestown, N.D., and $8,149.90 from Hall Signs Inc. of Bloomington, Ind.

Bill Smithhart, hazardous waste and noxious waste director, reported 165 pounds of flammables, 23 pounds of pesticides, four car batteries, 49 pounds of latex paint, 200 pounds of waste oil and 12 pounds of trash picked up from Lehigh May 17.

The commission awarded a bid of $4,003.20 for 360 gallons of 2,4-DLV Ester to Markley Service over a bid of $4,068 from Ag Service.

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