Lawrence County receives stimulus windfall

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Funds must be spent on COVID-19-related goods

Members of the Lawrence County Emergency Services Board (LCESB) saw a demonstration of new P25 radios for first responders from representatives of Radiophone at the May meeting of the organization.

Dalton Lane, a Radiophone representative, reported Lawrence County had received $4.5 million in federal funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and is required to spend those monies on COVID-related items before Dec. 31. Lane touted the new radio communications system was fully interoperable with air, wire-based, security, and data interfaces, providing total communication capabilities with Missouri Statewide Wireless Interoperable Network (MOSWIN), VHS and 800 MHZ frequencies, ideal for all branches of emergency responders.

The units come in two designs, one for law enforcement and other first responders, and the other, a more durable, heat resistant model with larger buttons for firefighters to use while wearing bunker gear and gloves.

“You might wonder why we chose this color of green,” Lane said. “But it has been proven that this is the last color the human eye can detect in a smoke-filled room.”

Aurora/Marionville Police Chief Richard Witthuhn said his officers used the same model of radios and that some of the “dead spots” for communications went away without any additional upgrades to their systems.

Palmer said he would discuss the purchase of the new radios with county commissioners before the next meeting.

In other business, discussion was held regarding CenturyLink’s continuation of charging a tariff to local customers despite being informed that they were required to cease and desist following the implementation of the half-cent tax in October 2019. The board terminated collections in December 2019.

Jay Quoka, of Mt. Vernon, reported the tariff still showing up on his monthly statement with CenturyLink and questioned how many other landline providers had also disregarded the notice.

The board agreed to provide him a letter to forward to CenturyLlink, although he said since he is no longer a customer and the company has stated its refusal to reimburse him the three months of inappropriately collected charges.

Board members commented resolution of several issues under discussion, including resolving issues with Aurora, should be up to the incoming board.

Several board seats are slated to change with the upcoming June 2 election.

Members also:

• Approved a by-laws amendment pertaining to meeting during times of public health crisis or state of emergency

• Discussed concerns to the effect of public health emergency on future tax revenues and the board’s obligation to spend funds wisely

• Discussed the need to determine if LCESB has the authority to point all calls to a specific 911 dispatch center, and if there is a state mandate requiring consolidation

• Moving the equipment from the City of Mt. Vernon to the Ozark Electric tower

• Set the board’s reorganizational meeting for 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 11, on the second floor of the historic Lawrence County Courthouse.

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