Changes coming to county’s E-911 system?

“It is the start that stops most people.” — NFL Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula

T-R PHOTO BY JEFF HUTTON
Several members of the Marshall County E-911 Joint Service Board discuss possible changes to the organization’s 28E Agreement at a special session Thursday at the Marshalltown Police Department. From left are RACOM President Mike Miller, E-911 Chairperson Jim Lowrance, Communications Supervisor Teresa Lang, Marshalltown City Administrator Jessica Kinser, and E-911 Vice-Chairperson and Marshall County Supervisor Bill Patten. Nearly a full house of attendees were on hand to participate in, and listen to the discussion.

T-R PHOTO BY JEFF HUTTON Several members of the Marshall County E-911 Joint Service Board discuss possible changes to the organization’s 28E Agreement at a special session Thursday at the Marshalltown Police Department. From left are RACOM President Mike Miller, E-911 Chairperson Jim Lowrance, Communications Supervisor Teresa Lang, Marshalltown City Administrator Jessica Kinser, and E-911 Vice-Chairperson and Marshall County Supervisor Bill Patten. Nearly a full house of attendees were on hand to participate in, and listen to the discussion.

No football was played Thursday night in the basement conference room of the Marshalltown Police Department’s headquarters, but Don Shula would have been pleased members of Marshall County’s E-911 Service Board started work during the first of what is expected to be many working sessions on possible changes to the organization’s extensive 16-page 28 E agreement.

Their mission: Update the document last revised in 2010.

In Iowa, 28 E agreements are permitted in the Iowa Code and are contracts between various levels of government promoting efficiency and cooperation.

The many changes discussed at Thursday’s meeting are tentative, because they must pass muster from attorneys and then reviewed again by the group.

Chairperson and Marshalltown Mayor Jim Lowrance, and Vice-Chairperson and Marshall County Board of Supervisors Bill Patten emphasized at the onset “making any changes would require several months of work.”

Key talking points

Patten made it clear to the standing-room only crowd what would not be in a new agreement.

“The E-911 equipment will not be moved to the Marshall County Sheriffs Office,” he said. “Marshalltown voters approved a measure (last August) which will move it to the new joint fire and police facility. If we changed that, I would expect a lot of Marshalltown residents would be lined up at Mayor Lowrance’s door.”

“These discussions will not be an effort to change or bust any unions.”

— The commission will be comprised of voting directors from local elected officials of each incorporated city in Marshall County, Marion Township, as well as a representative of UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown, the chairperson of the Marshall County E-911 Joint Service Board and the chairperson of the Marshall County Emergency Management Commission. Lowrance and others said a proposed change from mayors to local elected official would keep a connection to voters.

— Marshall County will remain fiscal agent.

— It was suggested architects be stricken from one section. Patten said retaining architects implied a new building might be necessary when that was not the case, since the new Marshalltown joint police/fire facility would house equipment.

— Reiterated current E-911 employees will remain under the jurisdiction of Marshalltown.

Public comments

Lowrance contacted media representatives after the meeting and said candidly he neglected to ask at the end of Thursday’s 44-minute meeting if there were any public comments.

“I was so pleased we got so much work done that I forgot to look down at the agenda and ask for public comments,” Lowrance said. “I will not forget at the next meeting.”

About the E-911 Center

— The center is staffed 24 hours, 7 days per week with two 911 operators at all times.

–The center is responsible for answering all emergency 911 calls placed within

Marshall County.

— The center dispatches for the entire county, including the Marshalltown Police Department, Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, volunteer fire departments and police in the smaller communities throughout the county.

— The center is maintained by a one dollar per month surcharge on all telephone lines within the county, and 50 cents on cell phones. The surcharge is submitted to the Auditors Office and administered by the 911 Service Board.

Voting members

In addition to Patten and Lowrance voting board members are Eric Erickson, Jeff Bunn, Hank Penner, Marie Thoms and Madeline Whelton. Non-voting members are Marshalltown Chief of Police Mike Tupper, who serves as E-911 administrator, and Teresa Lang of the MPD, who is communications supervisor.

Others in attendance are Marshall County law enforcement, fire services, city and county officials and residents.

The next meeting of the E-911 Board will be at its regular 5:30 p.m. July 13, in the MPD basement conference room.

The board holds regularly scheduled meetings at 5:30 p.m. the second Thursday of each month also in the lower level of MPD headquarters. For more information, contact Lang at 641-754-4750 or tlang@ci.marshalltown.ia.us.