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Commissioners OK Agreement for Combined Dispatch Center

A nearly two year effort to create a single combined communications dispatch center in Fremont County took another step forward at the September 10th meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.   The Commissioners voted unanimously to approve an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the City of Cañon City, the City of Florence, and the Cañon City Area Fire Protection District.   While the Board of Commissioners signed onto the formal agreement, it is the Fremont County Sheriff’s Department that is the major player for the county.   Sheriff Jim Beicker said the art of compromise is what made the endeavor a success.   Beicker has long contended that while there may be some long range cost savings to the various entities involved, it is public safety that is the driving factor in operating from a single 9-1-1 dispatch center.

The Commissioners also voted to appoint Sheriff Beicker to the seven member dispatch authority governance board which will set things in motion towards getting a new dispatch center in operation in the Florence Town Hall by early next spring.   One of the first tasks of the governing board will be to seek out and hire a project manager who will oversee the technical aspects of setting up the new 9-1-1 center.   The Fremont County E 9-1-1 Authority has agreed to pay the cost of hiring a project manager so sharing the additional costs of that position did not become a stumbling block in the negotiations on the IGA.   A separate technology committee will also be formed immediately to provide input to the governing board and the project manager as to what types of hardware and software systems will be jointly shared by the participating agencies.

Commissioner Ed Norden said there are other important funding components to the new dispatch center.   He said the participating entities intend to make application to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for an Energy and Mineral Impact Grant that may fund the cost of a new records management system (RMS) for the center.   RMS is a software program that would be shared among all of the agencies involved so that when reports are generated on an incident they can be shared electronically with all of the agencies involved.

Sheriff Beicker said that the bottom line is that the citizens of Fremont County will benefit whether they need law enforcement, fire personnel, or an ambulance.   He said the other equally important thing is the safety of officers and the efficiency in which a single dispatch center is run.

The Board of Commissioners also approved a Special Review Use permit at their September 10th meeting for Arkansas Valley Ambulance (AVA).   AVA has been working to establish a permanent, central location in western Fremont County from which their ambulances and personnel can respond from.   The site in question is along US Highway 50 a short distance west of Texas Creek.   AVA already began answering ambulance calls from that location before they realized they needed a special permit from the county.

During the public hearing on the permit request Becky Girdler said they need a professional ambulance service in the area and “We know they’ll be there when we want them”.   Nearby neighbor Mark Rowland, who used to run calls for AVA, said he was concerned with the immediate neighbors getting the entire disturbance from ambulance calls and Rowland said “We don’t want this bunch with their history as our neighbors”.   Chip Foster expanded his comments beyond the issue of the permit saying AVA and the Deer Mountain Fire District ambulance operation are at war over personnel and political nonsense.   He told the Commissioners “If you really care about the safety of people in western Fremont County, you’ll let them have an office in this building”.

The Commissioners unanimously approved the permit for AVA.   District 3 Commissioner Ed Norden said the ongoing squabble between AVA and Deer Mountain Fire District’s ambulance operation does not enter into the merits of whether a permit should be issued.   But Norden took exception to Foster’s remarks that the Board of Commissioners were somehow at the heart of the squabble.   Norden said the Commissioners’ utmost concern is seeing that western Fremont County residents are assured of professional service when calling for an ambulance.

In other business at the September 10th meeting the Commissioners:

  • Approved a zone change from Ag Estates to Industrial Zone for two acres of property along High Street north of Cañon City, about 700 west of Orchard Avenue.   Mary McBroom wants to develop the property as a large storage yard for RV’s and boats which would be an accessory use to her mini-storage facility across the street;
  • Set a public hearing for 10 a.m. on September 24th for a minor amendment to the Fremont County Ambulance regulations;
  • Set a special meeting for 1:30 p.m. September 18th for a presentation on the 2012 county audit report.