One Russell Springs commissioner opposes dispatch change
In July 24-30 issue By Derek Aaron Times Journal Reporter
RUSSELL SPRINGS - The City Commission held a special meeting on Friday morning to approve the proposal to bring the ambulance service and 911 under the same umbrella.
“The passing of this proposal means a lot countywide,” Russell Springs Mayor Hollis DeHart said. “If it works the way we intend it to, and I believe it will, we'll be having a much more efficient and streamlined service than we've ever had before in the past.”
DeHart said the city's saving of $42,000 per year was also key for the city to join in the agreement.
The mayor said several issues were circulating in the community that needed to be cleared up concerning the Interlocal-Emergency 911 agreement.
“The biggest issue seems to surround the 911-LINK Board,” he said. The present board consists of Russell Springs Police Chief Joseph M. Irvin, Jamestown Police Chief Mike Keaton, Russell County Sheriff Larry Bennett and Tony Wright, the Jamestown fire chief.
“I must tell you, from a personal preference, I'd rather it stay that way,” DeHart said. Under the new agreement the board would consist of the sheriff, the circuit judge, the district judge, the court's pre-trial officer, the mayors of both Russell Springs and Jamestown and the county judge-executive.
“Those forces that are opposed to this committee seem to believe that this group of people do not have the experience to serve on this committee, nor do they have the ability to know whom to hire as 911 dispatchers,” he said.
DeHart said while he preferred the structure of the old board to the new, he saw no reason why the new committee couldn't do the job.
“Some of the people on that committee have deep experience in personnel matters, financial matters, they manage budgets involving millions of dollars and they know how to hire and fire people from various professions and vocational positions,” the mayor said.
DeHart said the board was completely legal and complied with Title 28, part 20 of the federal regulations for such a board.
He said for the board to have a link to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Crime Information Center, this country's central database for tracking crime-related information, it must be configured this way.
DeHart had some question over how the new ambulance service be supervised with two authoritative figures, one being Mark Coots, and the other to be named later, but he said he fully supported the merger of the EMS with the 911 dispatch.
Commissioner Ray Barrett voiced some concern on how the newly organized service would be able to function without monetary input from the entities without raising taxes.
DeHart told him the money would still be coming in through alternate ways and that the ambulance service had taxation authority but didn't promise that taxes would not be raised in the future.
The measure passed 4-1, with Barrett being the lone dissenter.
Barrett said he had some questions over the taxation issue and said he worried that taxes would have to be raised to support the new service.
He said the city had been paying the $3,500 a month fee to the EMS board for many years and the service had worked good so far.
“I hope it all works out fine but it is a touchy situation down there,” he said.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell Springs KY 42642
Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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Jamestown KY 42629