Smart Start keeps drunks off area roads

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January 13, 2015 - 12:00 AM

HUMBOLDT — City Administrator Cole Herder proposed a new revenue stream for Humboldt Monday night that could generate as much as $12,000 a year.
City council members gave their blessing, pending City Attorney Fred Works signing off on a contract. The measure would have Humboldt police officers installing and monthly calibrating devices required in cars owned by anyone convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Called Smart Start, the system prevents a car’s ignition from functioning until the operator blows into a small breath analyzer connected to the auto’s computer system.
“All we need is a garage — which we have — and a few hand tools,” Herder said, to install the system.
Checking to ensure the systems are working correctly should take about five to seven minutes once a month per vehicle.
“All we install won’t be from Humboldt, but from a radius (yet to be determined),” Herder said. He mentioned several vendors in other southeast Kansas cities, but none closer than about 60 miles of Humboldt.
He and Dillow both said the additional income would give the police department opportunities to purchase high-tech crime-fighting equipment it otherwise couldnot afford, or that would be a burden on the city’s tax-supported general fund.
Start Smart is headquartered in Grapevine, Texas, and has regional office in Moundridge. It is one of several companies that make the ignition blockers.
Herder said Humboldt would have no cost involved and wouldn’t incur liability if one of the ignition contraptions malfunctioned.
The Start Smart proposal also has a public service feature, Herder recognized.

MAYOR NOBBY Davis and council members Vada Aikins and Sunny Shreeve said they would seek re-election this spring. Wayne Smith announced he would not be a candidate, as did Joann Evans, by way of email. She was not at the meeting.
Herder said bids for Safe Routes to School sidewalks would be let on May 20, with a provision to protect northern long-eared bats, whose numbers have dwindled. To keep from harming the bats when they’re likely to be present in the area, federal law prohibits cutting any trees that measure three inches or more in diameter at a height of four feet between April 2 and Oct. 31 near the proposed sidewalks. Otherwise, two trees have been removed by city workers and a third large one will be removed by a contractor before April 2.
Council members approved merit raises for several employees; approved employment of Larry Kress in maintenance and Dean Kipp part time at the water plant.
Herder urged utility customers to make cell phone numbers available to City Hall, noting that many people today didn’t have land lines and could be reached only by cell phone. That became an issue when a water pipe froze and broke under a house and it took several hours to contact the out-of-state owner, he said.

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