Kenton confirms change to emergency dispatching

Kenton confirms change to emergency dispatching

Posted: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 8:59 pm

By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Kenton’s decision a week ago to change over the city’s emergency communications dispatching from Gibson County to Obion County dominated the agenda of Tuesday night’s Kenton board of aldermen meeting.
The move by the board a week ago, during a budget meeting, was prompted by the near $10,000 the city will save by making the move.
Nearly three-fourths of Tuesday night’s meeting was taken up discussing emergency dispatching, but in the end the board stood by its decision to switch over to Obion County dispatching.
The city has spent nearly $10,000 a year for emergency dispatching through Central Control in Gibson County, while Obion County’s 911 and sheriff’s department will provide those services at no charge to the city.
The move was recommended by board member and police commissioner Angie Choate. She and others on the council saw the move as a way for the city to cut expenses at a time when the city is experiencing financial problems.
“I’m confident it’s going to work,” Mrs. Choate told the board at its meeting last week.
And Tuesday night she stood by her recommendation.
In fact, the board took no action on its decision following a lengthy and relatively civil discussion of the issue.
The discussion was led by Gibson County 911 representative Tommy Litton, a former member of the Kenton board of aldermen. He urged members of the board to take a long, hard look at their decision and consider all the consequences.
Litton said “there are some things to consider” in reference to shifting the emergency dispatching from Gibson County to Obion County. He cited whether the agreement between the city and current Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder would continue under future administrations, and whether the change would affect the city’s ISO rating for fire protection. Litton also brought up how the switch would affect mutual aid response from nearby Gibson County towns when it comes to police and fire protection.
“Our primary function is dispatch, not law enforcement,” Litton said.
Also in attendance at Tuesday night’s meeting was Obion County 911 Director Sherry Hanna. She flanked Litton as they fielded questions and concerns about the switchover.
The two 911 representatives and council members addressed a wide variety of issues related to how the move would affect the residents of Kenton. It is because the town straddles the Gibson and Obion county line that the problem exists when it comes to county services.
At one point during the discussion, Mayor Virginia Davidson had to call for order as several members of the audience at City Hall got involved in the debate.
In the end, however, it was evident the board’s decision was based on saving money for the city while also trying to provide the best dispatching services available.
Also during Tuesday night’s slightly longer than hour-long meeting, the board was informed that contracts have been signed to repair the northwest area of the town’s community center. Council member and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Faye Sharp said she expects work on the project to begin within the next few weeks.
Approval was also granted Tuesday night to the purchase of a new radar gun for the town’s police department. The department’s current radar unit is not working and Mrs. Choate explained the city could use money from its drug fund to finance the purchase, which will be reimbursed through a state grant. The new radar gun is expected to cost between $400 and $500.
As other board members/commissioners made their reports to the council, it became evident there will be a full agenda for the board’s Feb. 8 meeting.
At that meeting, the board will consider applying for three grants, which would benefit the streets department and the fire department. Also, the board will hear a report concerning a complaint from city resident Charles Clouson, will review a report on the use of city dumpsters and will hear a report on the fire department.

Published in The Messenger 1.5.11

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