Sheriff, county explore options for dispatch center

Posted September 4, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Board of Supervisors

By Kim Brooks, Express Editor

Sheriff Greg Graver presented a renovation project idea to the Jones County Board of Supervisors at their Aug. 27 meeting. Graver said the dispatch center is quickly running out of room, and with new equipment coming, now is a good time to think about relocating their dispatch center.

Graver said in 2008 when Cedar Rapids and Linn County were heavily flooded, Linn County Dispatch lost their equipment. They since purchased new equipment, running with updated software. According to Graver, Jones County Dispatch is still running on Windows ’95.

“It should be replaced every eight years or so,” Graver said.

With the narrow band in place, Linn County had to purchase even newer equipment, going to one system along with their fire and ambulance services. Graver said, having known about the change, he contacted Linn County to see if they’d be willing to sell their flood-replacement equipment to Jones County.

“We could get it at a used rate,” he said. Graver estimated paying around $30,000 for the new equipment, plus about $20,000 to have it all installed. “I’ve talked with them on several occasions for possibly purchasing their equipment.

“This will be a huge benefit to our county,” continued Graver. He said as a service to Linn County during the ’08 flooding, Jones County held many of their prisoners because their jail was under water.

The new equipment is touch-screen, which will be easy to use, Graver said.

In paying for the equipment and installation, it has not been determined where the money will come from. Graver said it would seem logical that both the Sheriff’s Department and E911 share in the costs, as both services rely heavily on dispatch.

With this new equipment, it will require more servers, of which Graver said will take up more space in their already-tight server room.

“We need to expand our workspace and better serve the public in a major emergency,” Graver told the Board.

He said there would be no room for dispatch once the new equipment and servers were brought in. To allow enough ventilation for the servers, they also need to install an air conditioning unit.

“Do we move dispatch or find a new home for the server equipment?” Graver proposed.

He said to keep the costs down, it’s more economical to relocate the dispatch center to the courthouse’s community room, located off the west entrance of the courthouse.

“Based on our needs, I believe the community room would better serve our purposes,” Graver told the Board. He said that room is just down the hall from the Sheriff’s Office, which would work out perfectly.

Graver drew up a proposed moving plan, which showed what would happen to the dispatch area if they moved to the community room. That space would then turn into the civil area and room for filing. He said they would then have a temperature-controlled room for the servers. He said they would also be able to expand the space for people who now have to wait in the hallway.

The room in which the Sheriff’s Office handles juveniles would also change. He said now, the room they use violates federal law because the juvenile does not have direct supervision. He proposed moving the juvenile holding room to their current interview room and installing a glass window for supervision.

Graver said he is constantly worrying about courthouse security concerning employees and the public. He said after-hours, once dispatch buzzes someone to come inside, there is nothing stopping that person from roaming all over the courthouse.

“Once people are in the courthouse, we lose control of where people are,” he said.

If dispatch was moved to the community room, Graver said they could install a one-way viewing port for after-hours.

While this plan is just preliminary, Graver informed the Board that they do have time to make a decision. The Supervisors all agreed, too, that they would hate to give up the community room, which is used for department/county meetings and as a staff break room.

Graver said Linn County hopes to switch over to their new system by next month some time. He said he would like Jones County Dispatch to be able to hook up the new system in a new location without any interruption of services. The Board agreed that it was a smart idea for Graver to take advantage of the new equipment via Linn County.

“It’s a win for everyone,” Graver said.

In other county business:

• County Engineer Derek Snead said they are working on ditching on Forest Chapel Road.

• Snead informed the Board that James DeShaw, a property owner involved in the D-65 road project, is appealing the decision made by the Compensation Commissioners concerning the right-of-way hearing held on June 27.

“We thought it was a done deal,” expressed Snead. He said the appeal process would not involve the commissioners. This should not slow down the timeframe of the project.

Another related condemnation hearing with Hosch Land LLC was scheduled to take place on Aug. 29.

• Snead reported that the Stone City Bridge is now open to traffic.

• Michele Lubben, Land Use Administrator, reported on several nuisance complaints: Fairview Township along Fish House Road in Anamosa, Lovell Township along Rock Road in Monticello, the Langworthy Locker in Wayne Township, Cass Township along 239th Avenue and along D-62 in Castle Grove.