Carroll County Quorum Court voted Monday to purchase a 220-ft. tall radio tower as part of moving the 911 Central Dispatch from the courthouse to the detention facility on the east side of Berryville.
Justice of the Peace Lamont Richie said the county has encountered all sorts of obstacles in its effort to relocate Central Dispatch, including incomplete information on radio licenses and how many radios are attached to a particular frequency. Independent contractor Sam Ward has been working on a total review of processes. Richie also mentioned the county has had to pay for “an enormous number of service calls” to take care of problems for which the county already had service calls.
Richie stated the county will need to buy a radio tower as part of the move, but the Federal Aviation Administration has yet to determine how tall it must be, and, depending on height, whether it must be lighted.
Ward said he found a 220-ft. freestanding tower in Nebraska comprised of 20-ft. sections for $200,000, and Richie reported County Judge Sam Barr would try to get county personnel to bring it here and construct the concrete foundation.
While waiting for word from the FAA, Richie said Ward is trying to determine what else the county must do to remedy missteps uncovered in this project.
JP Chuck Olson suggested they go ahead and purchase the tower while it’s available, and Richie agreed. He said a tower 150-ft. high or shorter might not need lighting, and if their tower must have lights, the utility bill might be several hundred dollars per month.
JP Don McNeely pointed out Carroll County is probably not the only entity looking for a radio tower, so he agreed with Olson they should proceed. Richie said the tower has been based only in the central part of the country, which means it has not been exposed to detrimental effects of moisture from salt water.
Jack Deaton moved to approve the purchase of the tower in Nebraska, Marty Johnson seconded, and vote to approve the motion was unanimous.
Richie commented he felt the court was duped into the contract they originally signed to move the dispatch operation. He assumed it was a turnkey bid for everything they had in mind, but “I was mistaken. We all were mistaken.” Had the county understood they would need to buy another antenna, they would have budgeted differently. However, he said they relied on others who told the court they would get a turnkey project, and that is not what they got.
“We’ve lived and learned on this,” he said, reiterating he would never again approve a contract on anything unless there were an independent project manager.
In support of the tower purchase, JPs approved an appropriation ordinance transferring an additional $60,000 to the Central Dispatch fund.
Misty Rupert shared her concerns about an “uprising of negligent hiring” and the rate of turnover in the sheriff’s department. She mentioned three hires in particular. She claimed her research indicated one of them was charged with three crimes but took a plea bargain for a lesser conviction of misdemeanor domestic battery, thereby avoiding a possible felony conviction. She pointed out, however, she had been told by a law enforcement official that a person convicted of domestic battery and prohibited from carrying a weapon, as was stated in deposition, is not eligible to be a full-time or reserve officer.
Another officer had been charged with two felony forgery charges, which were eventually dismissed. Rupert said he was later hired full-time. She admitted this person was later let go, but her point remained about why he was hired in the first place.
The third person she mentioned had been offered a position based on years of experience in spite of the fact he had pleaded no contest and had been convicted of a misdemeanor charge of tampering. The job offer was subsequently pulled.
Rupert also said that 74 people in 28 months have either quit, been terminated, or allowed to resign. She asked, “Does the court not see something wrong with these numbers?”
When asked to respond, Sheriff Randy Mayfield replied, “I don’t think she’s gonna vote for me.” When pressed for further comment, Mayfield said, “She cited points but some of it is nonsense. She’s obviously against me.” He claimed Rupert last year created a false Facebook profile and for six months continually “sandbagged me, but she was called out by her peers for it.” He called her comments “a total hit job.”
Mayfield insisted Rupert summarized facts incorrectly. He said, “If there’s more turnover, it’s because we’re more accountable than we’ve ever been. We don’t sweep anything under the table. I will arrest any of my people who commit a crime, and I have.”
Mayfield offered to provide details or speak with JPs about the allegations.
- Richie said the 2018 budget would be tight and he expects there will be cuts. The proposed budget should be ready before the end of November so JPs will be able to consider it at the December meeting.
- Jeff Hatley of Ozark Regional Transit told JPs his company is still recovering from a devastating fire earlier in the year that destroyed some of their vehicles. “We’re climbing back up using borrowed, leased or donated vehicles,” he said. Ridership is down significantly as a result, but Hatley was confident they would continue to meet demands as best they can.
- Commissioner David Stoppel reported for the Eastern Carroll County Ambulance District Commission. He said his commission hopes to receive bids for an ambulance provider by Nov. 1, open the bids Nov. 3, and discuss them on Nov. 5. He expects service to begin within 60-90 days after that.
Next meeting will be Monday, Nov. 20, at 5 p.m.