Welcome aboard one more time as we slip and slide our way around Pulaski County. Yes, it is a great morning in the Ozarks especially if you have a 4X4 vehicle and an Arctic survival suit. We only have two 4X4’s and no Arctic suits. It will be a long day. The lack of 4X4 vehicles will hamper our response this winter but I just could not find a way to come up with any such vehicles. I barely kept the fleet up and running for the rest of the year’s activity. It sure would be nice to receive some money in the budget to address the vehicle issue. But as we all know Pulaski County does not give the Sheriff’s Office money to purchase cars with so if you are in a jam and need help you will just have to wait for your turn on our 4X4 rotation.
I was looking at our paper service numbers for November and it appears that we served 253 papers and tried but failed to serve another 186 papers. So far in December we have served another 130 papers. So the daily grind continues. Our case number/calls for service count stands at 10,650 and that is the new record high for one year. But the year is not over and we will go higher. This snow covered morning the deputies are responding to many vehicle accidents and we are going to add a lot of numbers to the total today.
In other numbers the inmate list today has 54 names. So that will mean that today’s inmate board bill will only be around $910.00 which is low for us. I received my budget expense sheet last week for the year up to November 30, 2010, and on that sheet we were $17,000 something over budget in the board bill at that time. But we still have one month to go and I am also sure that not all of the November bills are in so we are going to add to the overage total.
In the area of auto expense we were budgeted $110,800 for this year. As of November 30th we were $8,000 something over budget there. The auto expense budget covers everything related to our cars. That means the gasoline, oil changes, filters, tires, wiper blades and everything else comes from that line. It also covers repairs such as the new headlight assembly for the jail van after the deer strike last month and if we have a major accident where the insurance company requires us to pay the $1,000 deductible for the wreck that fee also comes from the auto expense budget line. Then there are the blown engines and transmissions on our older fleet. In short the auto expense budget line covers a lot of ground with a modest amount of money.
In other news we have added another section to our Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office web site. We now have a listing of our active missing person’s cases along with a brief history on each case. We are hoping that people will see and read these entries and if you have information the tip line is on the front page. The last time I checked we had already had over 1,400 visitors to our new site. I find that to be a very interesting number. But then again we did not have a counter on the old site so we have no idea how many people visited us in the old days.
On Friday the 10th I went to St. James for the annual budget award decision day. As usual it was a mess. We had 35 grant requests for a total of $927,000 and we only had $287,000 in funds to dispense. Once again it was a case of how do you decide who gets what. So our procedure was to take the grants and process them on a three part cycle. During the first cycle the only question was does this grant meet the state criteria for funding. If yes we pass it on to the second cycle, if no we take it out of consideration. In cycle number two we (all 14 board members) score each grant on a number of factors by assigning points to each of several categories. Then our point scores are added up and a final average score is assigned to each grant.
The blood flows in cycle number three. The grants are lined up in numerical order and we start with the highest number score and work our way down the list. Each grant must be eligible for funding in at least one state approved category. One of those is the interoperable radio justification. We had 19 grants that asked for radios so we separated the radios from the rest of the grants and assigned a financial figure of 55% of our funding to go to radios and 45% to go toward the other grants. This was the same percentage of the funding asked for in the total grant requests. Our radio requests had totaled $485,000 something which was right at 55% of our total requested funds.
We had two grants that we had to fund before we even started the process that were in a special category and so it worked out that 55% of our remaining funds equaled $107,000 for radios and $88,000 something for the other grants. In our immediate area there were some successful grants. We did fund the Region I repeater program. This will place a radio repeater on three existing towers in LacLede, Pulaski and Dent Counties. We funded portable radios for the Tri-County Fire Department at Richland. We funded a backup power generator for the Crocker Fire Departments Swedeborg Fire Station. We also funded some radios (not a full funding request) for both the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department and the Rolla Police Department.
On the radio side we ran out of money by the time we got to radio grant number eight of nineteen requests. So we fully or partially funded 8 of 19 radio grants before we ran out of money. My own personal opinion is that if the federal government is going to mandate that ALL emergency services switch over to the narrow band radio systems by 1-1-2013 then they should be helping a whole heck of a lot more with the funding. After all if you fail to meet the deadline and continue to use your radio after 1-1-2013 then you are committing a law violation and subject to a fine of $1,000 per day. But how does a police or sheriff’s department shut completely down if their radios are not up to standard? And if they could not find the local funds to purchase the new radios then what are they supposed to do?
For the record all of the radio’s; both portable and mobile along with the base unit for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office are P-25 compliant and narrow band compliant which is the new standard. We have also successfully applied for our new FCC radio license that will allow us to split our frequencies and make the switch any time we chose to make the switch. We have also cut a deal with our radio service vendor for the reprogramming switch over at a modest cost. Bottom line we are ready for 1-1-2013.
I am well over the column word mark so I must close. Please drive with extreme care and please stay out of my jail. But the overworked light bulb continues to glow!