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Working Ahead to Keep Dispatch Center on Pace

Lee County, IA – The oversight board for Lee County's new centralized emergency dispatch center hopes some extra work now will allow the facility to open on time.

The current timeline calls for a director to be hired by July 1, 2010. The facility would be operational, county-wide, 3 months later.

Sheriff Buck Jones says it would be difficult for the new director to hire the dispatchers, provide adequate training, and develop a policy and procedure manual in those three months. He says a sub-committee has been formed to work on the manual.

"They will take the policies and procedures from each of our three departments and from other consolidated dispatch centers," says Jones, "and they will probably just kind of marry everything together for our situation."

The manual will cover issues such as chain of command, seniority, access, discipline and training. Jones says this would allow the new director to come in and tweak the manual as needed.

The oversight board discussed pushing back the opening date for the county-wide service during its Sept. 22 meeting. The panel decided to wait to see how much work is done in the next few months.

Jones says the facility will be used by Lee County, earlier than October 2010, because of the renovation/expansion of the jail.

The oversight board also approved the job descriptions for the director, the supervisors, and the dispatchers. Most of the dispatchers are expected to come from the Keokuk and Fort Madison Police Departments.

EquipmentThe oversight board for Lee County's centralized dispatch center is still looking at options for supplying the new facility in the Lee County Jail. Early estimates are that new equipment and furniture could cost more than $300,000.

E-911 Board Chairman Dave Murray says there could be about $140,000 dollars available, through his organization, for the project. He says state and federal grant money could still be available.

The board voted to have Sheriff Buck Jones write a letter to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Cong. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) encouraging them to include money for the center in the federal budget.