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Aug 2, 2023 (0)
The Holt County Supervisors met on July 31 for their regular end-of-the-month meeting.
One of the last items on the agenda was the Boyd Holt E-911 discussion.
The Boyd Holt E-911 Board has been in the public eye for the last month. On Tuesday, June 20, the Boyd Holt Mutual Aide Association representatives filled the Holt County Annex meeting room.
It was brought to the E-911 board by local fire, EMS and law enforcement that dissatisfaction with the dispatching and concerns over the recent and proposed increases in service charges to communities were out of line, and accusations against board members' management were also brought up in dealing with dispatchers.
Holt County Board Chairman Bill Tielke spoke about the meeting held on Tuesday, July 11, when Boyd County Commissioners Nancy Ruda and Duane Reiman met with Holt County Supervisors Bill Tielke, Scott Keyes and Duane Neiman at the Holt County Annex with a handful of area emergency services provider leaders including fire chiefs and EMS captains in the area.
The problems discussed at the meeting were not just dispatching errors but evident issues with board members and their actions in dealing with employees. Also discussed were the board's actions in keeping up with the proposed sharing of resources with a proposed multi-county area of dispatch centers from Holt to Sheridan County.
The members of the fire and rescue officers facing the double set of supervisors voiced their concerns with accusations made against board members and that the fix possibly would need to be a change in board members.
The talk included thoughts on replacing the board or replacing certain members of the board.
Tielke reminded both sides that a complete replacement would not be wise as it takes years for members of the board to get to the point where they have a good grasp of what is going on, and replacing all members of the board would devastate any progress made and jeopardize the organization further.
Dustin Briener, the E-911 chairman and one of Holt County's supervisors, was the first to talk. "We have eight dispatchers on the roll. We have Jackie, with two years of experience previously employed by Custer County; Jerod, seven months; Jill, eight months; Rachel, 13 months and five years of managerial skills; Rebecca, one month with previous training experience; Gary, one month with previous experience out of Cass and Lancaster, County's and Shelby; and Alicia, who is a jailor and has had previous experience."
Briener explained a long list of dispatchers' duties, including all the logging of information from both Sheriff's offices as well as the O'Neill Police Department information that is looked up by the dispatchers and info researched such as license and registration look-ups and written logs are taken care of.
"As far as the money goes, we have $10,000 in monthly bills, not including payroll and insurance. Radio bills are up to $20,000 yearly; Solo Com, which routes the 911 phone calls, is up to $15,000 per year plus additional contracts. Geo Com, which does our maps, is $20,000 annually for updated mapping. Assessments are up to $50 per person per year or 13.7¢ per day; The payroll is $317,962 per year, and the insurance is $132,996.
It has been an everyday struggle to find help. On top of that, it takes four to six months to train someone new, and during that time, they may figure the job doesn't work for them.
Everybody is outside looking in, and they know better than everybody else what goes on behind the scenes. Those on the board have information not necessarily available to the public. I will stand behind the staff that we have now, and I feel we are going in a good direction. Many things have happened in the past that I cannot support or vote for, and I think that is in the past. We are genuinely trying to help and give the people good service," said Briener.
"I agree it is a tough time to find the right people to hire. We have hired people, and some of them have left -being our choice or theirs. We are in a better position now, and I think we're moving forward. It is difficult to see both sides, and there will be errors, but we just have to work through it," said O'Neill Police Chief Matt Otte.
Scott Menish was asked if he had any comment, responding, "Other than one of our board members commenting that "it is easy enough a three-year-old could do this job." It downgrades our dispatchers, and then three days later, we have three of them quit."
Briener, at the asking of Tielke, answered the question about the rate hikes.
"We have not had a rate hike in six years, and so there is catch-up to play, and we had new things come down from the public service commission to get our money from them. So we had to have more training and at least one certified trainer. Another thing changing is how we get paid out. We had a regional meeting and got our maintenance agreement upped, and our equipment is up to date," said Briener.
Tielke then discussed the requirements for the E-991 Board. Most of the supervisors had been on the board.
Discussion on the requirements for being on the board was discussed. Traditionally the supervisors were on the board, but the position did not require it to be a supervisor. Tielke suggested more reports needed to be given to the respective boards regarding quarterly reports.
The last speaker from the board was Keith Larabee, the technical member of the E-911 board.
"I just want you to know that if this all falls apart by state statute, you must provide 911 service, and it comes back to this room.
The boards got interlocal agreements to put this service together, and both groups need each other. We set this up and obtained grants from September 11 funds that helped us get to a good spot for many years.
We have had E-911 Board member Boyd County Sheriff Chuck Wrede come to the meetings complaining about incidents involving (status checks) which are periodic radio checks between law enforcement and the dispatch center to verify the officer's safety and that the officer is in no danger. Wrede brings these issues to the board weeks after happening and uses them as a pawn in a game to set someone up to fail and not get it to the immediate supervisor. I'm afraid I have to disagree with that thought. We have signed documents representing hundreds of fire and EMS people, and our board members are signing this.
How is that received by the rest of you? He is trying to get different ideas through. The board does not need to agree with each other all the time. If that were true, why would we need a board? The organization of the board is bad. We have to keep cherry-picking the past, and trying to incorporate it into the present isn't going to work. I respect the people, but I disagree with stuff that has been said by other members of the board. I think we are on a roller coaster, on the downward side and making our way back up.
The supervisors from Boyd and Holt Counties have choices to make with the issue at hand. Accusations have been made from both sides. The new crop of dispatchers has been doing a good job and will improve as they gain more time in the seat.
The board can't be replaced all at once as that would be a disaster, leaving a new board with little knowledge. The fact is that perhaps a couple of board members should resign, or a set of supervisors should consider replacing one or both of their representatives."
Welcome to the discussion.