Chanute asks to join 911 system

The Iola Register

With continued cost increases and quality concerns mounting with current 911 services provided by Neosho County, Chanute City Manager, Jeff Cantrell, went before Allen County commissioners Tuesday to ask if they would consider allowing Chanute to join Allen County’s 911 service.

According to the Director of 911 Services in Allen County, Angela Murphy, regionalization and consolidation is nothing new. Murphy noted the county had previously looked into absorbing services for Woodson County two years ago and Yates Center as recently as last year.

Murphy said the deal with Woodson County fell apart after their previous sheriff left and a new administration came in. She went on to say the dynamics didn’t work with Yates Center.

This would be no small task.

Commissioners questioned if they could absorb a city as large as Chanute, whose population hovers around 9,000.

Cantrell has held his position for four years and has been studying the growing rift between Chanute and the county during that time.

“As a new guy coming in the first thing you do is listen. Then you try to determine if we really have an issue or if we are just dealing with unnecessary chatter. After going over everything, I really think we could resolve a lot of our issues by getting in with you guys,” Cantrell said. “We are very interested in your services. The level of dispatch that you guys provide is another tier up than what we receive.”

Cantrell said the costs with their current provider have increased 3% to 5% every year, while the services provided have consistently gone downhill.

“Everything we have seen has indicated that this would be a really good thing for Chanute,” Cantrell said.

Neosho County has had its share of problems in recent weeks, with two county commissioners – David Bideau and Jennifer Orr -- resigning in the last month. 

Losing the service would mean a loss of revenue for Neosho County.

“This is not a get-rich scheme, I don’t think this is going to be some million-dollar revenue opportunity. I think this is the neighborly thing to do,” Murphy said. “If it pays for the service with a little gravy on top, that’s great. But in my mind, if you open that door then they will come and that is where I see the bigger benefit. Because in addition to receiving contract money, we would also be eligible, hopefully at the start of next year to receive their 911 funds as well.”

Commissioner Bruce Symes said that he knows the county will have to spend some money to make this happen — perhaps by expanding the current facilities, while adding additional positions — but he would like to proceed with getting more information before making a decision.

Earlier in the meeting, Cantrell had said that he would like to look into a three- to five-year agreement with the county, or possibly a five to 10-year agreement. Symes said they would need at least a five to 10-year agreement for it to be feasible.

Cantrell said that would be possible. Symes also questioned whether Cantrell had the Chanute City Council’s approval. Cantrell stated that as city manager he alone could make that decision and did not require council’s approval. That said, the majority of council members are on board, he said. 

All commissioners agreed they wanted Murphy to continue doing research before they made a decision.

 

STEVE STRICKLER of  Strickler Holstein Farm, along with a couple of members of Rotary Club, presented a recycling program that was too good for commissioners to pass up.

Commissioners agreed to pay for three dumpsters, one each for Humboldt, Iola and Moran, for local businesses to drop off cardboard boxes. The dumpsters will cost $1,300 apiece and businesses that want to get on board will receive a key to access them.

Commissioners also agreed to pay for Coles Trash Service to pick up the eight-yard dumpsters once a month and take them to B&W Trailer Hitches in Humboldt. Strickler said B&W allowed them to use their cardboard bailers in the past, as long as they provided the labor.

Commissioner Bill King was excited to have members of the community willing to help with a recycling program.

“You guys came in here with a problem, but you also came in here with a solution. When I saw this in the paper, I was about ready to veto this right off. I looked at recycling hard over the years and for us to do it, it simply would not pay. But by you guys participating that is the difference,” King said.

Strickler said they will continue taking plastic pop bottles down at the trailers used for the paper drive, that he collects in chemical totes. The group will also sort the plastics at the site.

 

COMMISSIONERS  rejected a request for a raise by Cara Barkdoll, who serves as the Register of Deeds.

House and Grounds Director, Ron Holman, informed commissioners the county received a bid for an outdoor water fountain that would sit in front of the courthouse. The bid came in at just under $8,000, which would feature a pet fountain, and a heating element that would keep it from freezing. Commissioners wanted to see if other fountains were available at a cheaper cost that did not include a pet fountain.

Rebecca Johnson, Director of the Southeast Kansas Maternal and Child Health Services, stopped by to introduce herself to the commissioners. 

 

The Iola Register

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