Murray County still in race for dispatch center

WORTHINGTON -- In a last-ditch effort to secure the location for a proposed regional dispatch center in Slayton, Murray County representatives offered plans during a meeting Monday afternoon for a revamped PSAP (public safety answering point) in ...

WORTHINGTON -- In a last-ditch effort to secure the location for a proposed regional dispatch center in Slayton, Murray County representatives offered plans during a meeting Monday afternoon for a revamped PSAP (public safety answering point) in their current law enforcement center (LEC).

The plans, which would require most of their LEC to be remodeled, offers a six- to eight-seat dispatch, office space for supervisory personnel and a room for communications equipment. According to Murray County Commissioner Kevin Vickerman, it could be ready for service by July 1, 2011.

The renovation would cost Murray County its two jail cells and a sallyport. It would provide slightly less than 2,900 square feet of space --significantly more than what would be available in the Prairie Justice Center.

During the last two monthly meetings regarding regional dispatch, the members voted to use Prairie Justice Center as the planned central facility. But Murray County hasn't given up.

"I know we are very late to the table, and I apologize for that," Vickerman stated.


The site in Nobles County, he said, will be outgrown in three to four years, whereas the six- to eight-seat dispatch in Slayton would bring participating counties 20 years into the future.

Other members of the group again expressed frustration that a subject which had voted on more than once was being brought up for discussion.

"We have got to make a decision and move forward or we will never be ready by January 2012," said Rock County Administrator Kyle Oldre, who offered to administrate the group until formal governance is put in place. "The plans are good, but it would have been great 12 months ago."

Vickerman, who told the group he had been trying for three years to talk his board into building a new law enforcement center in Murray County, said he believed the renovation could be complete and the dispatch center running before Nobles County had the tower needed for the ARMER system.

G.J. Therkelsen and Associates provided a financial update for the joint dispatch, based on using the Prairie Justice Center dispatch area after some renovation.

With dispatchers, a supervisor and administrative support, it's estimated 13.5 full-time employees would be needed to staff the center. That would include two dispatchers on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a third on duty during the eight busiest hours of each day.

The report states anywhere between $2.5 and $3.7 million could be saved in capital costs between the four counties -- Nobles, Rock, Cottonwood and Murray -- by moving to a regional PSAP as the ARMER system is employed.

"Counties that participate in the joint PSAP can expect to avoid the direct purchase of expensive capital equipment required to do the work," the report states. "Consoles, audio recorders and physical connection to the MNDOT ARMER system are examples of expensive capital equipment that would not be necessary."


A total of capital equipment, modifications, radios and consoles to get the regional center up and running is estimated at $2.3 million, with an annual recurring cost of approximately $1.4 million.

The report also compares agency activity such as 911 calls answered per year, number of events dispatched and crime data.

Oldre also provided group members with an interim agreement, which spells out board membership, officers, powers duties, application and withdrawal from the group and terms of agreement.

"This is only an interim agreement until a formal joint powers can be established," Oldre reminded the group. "It creates more structure than we have right now."

He then asked if a site could be voted on.

"I recommend the Prairie Justice Center," said Rock County Sheriff Evan Verbrugge.

"I recommend Murray County," countered Murray County Commissioner Gerald Magnus.

Oldre pointed out again that the issue had already been voted on twice.


"If this does not go to Murray County, are you going to continue with your remodel and expansion?" asked Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening.

"Yes," Magnus replied.

When asked if Murray County would pull out of the group if the PSAP wasn't put in Slayton, Magnus gave the same answer Vickerman had given last month when asked the same question.

"I can't speak for the other commissioners."

Oldre asked the commissioners present to get the interim agreement on their next county agenda so the document could be adopted and a chair could be voted on.

"And if you are going to pull out, we should probably know that as well," he added.

Voting on the site will take place -- again -- at the next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 4.

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