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Commissioners Vote to Rescind Letter of Dispatch Withdrawal

Consultants with Technology Plus have recommended the 4th floor of the Fremont County Judicial Center as the preferred site for a new countywide combined dispatch center. The governing board is to make a final decision on June 19th.

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The Fremont County Commissioners have pulled a letter off the table that had the county withdrawing from the intergovernmental agreement which serves as the cornerstone for developing a countywide 9-1-1 dispatch and communications center.    The Commissioners had sent the letter in February to the other parties to the agreement; the Cities of Cañon City and Florence, the Fremont County E 9-1-1 Authority, and the Cañon City Fire Protection District.  The Commissioners voted unanimously at their regular June 10th meeting to rescind the letter.

The Commissioners sent the letter of withdrawal at the request of Sheriff Jim Beicker who was frustrated over the lack of progress and the inability of the governing board to make any decisions to move the Combined Regional Communications Authority (CRCA) forward.   In making the motion to rescind the letter of withdrawal, District 3 Commissioner Ed Norden said Sheriff Beicker has since indicated that steady, positive progress is being made by the governing board.   Norden said it is important now that the county withdraw the letter because of the $1 million grant Energy and Mineral Impact Grant application.   He said the grant application for the dispatch center will go before the Colorado Department of Local Affairs in the coming weeks, and it’s important to demonstrate that all of the entities are on board working towards a common goal.

Meanwhile the CRCA Board decided later the same day at their meeting in Florence to postpone a final decision on a preferred location for dispatch center until their monthly meeting on June 19th.   The CRCA Board called a special meeting on June 10th to hear a report from Technology Plus, a consultant hired to review the current technical aspects of the dispatch centers and the technical requirements for the new combined communications center.

Jason Crandel, technologist with Technologies Plus, said his firm was not asked to review different locations until the team actually arrived in Fremont County.   He said they were asked to review the 4th floor of the county’s Judicial Center, the Florence City Hall, and the existing dispatch area at the Cañon City Police Department.   Crandel said after considering the three locations, the best option is the fourth floor of the Judicial Center, because it is a "shell space."

Crandel said the team eliminated the Florence facility from consideration because the lower floor of City Hall is about a foot above the floodplain.   He said in event of a flood the infrastructure of the building would be impacted.   Crandel said the 4th floor Judicial Center dispatch area could be built without impacting either of the two existing dispatch centers.

Cañon City Administrator Doug Dotson argued that Cañon City could renovate the current police department dispatch center at a fraction of the cost of a new location.   Dotson told Crandel that the city doesn’t see it as significant construction and would only involve adding a wall to close in existing open space.   But Crandel cautioned against picking up and moving Cañon City’s existing dispatch equipment.   Crandel said the Cañon City Police Department has the highest risk of negatively impacting public safety of any of the three sites.   Crandel said the problem is that new dispatch equipment would have to go into the same area currently being used for dispatch.   Crandel asked, “How do you attach a cost to emergency calls that are disrupted to the public?”

Florence City Manager Mike Patterson said he’s glad to see the county back in after rescinding the letter, but Patterson said he didn’t think another week’s delay in making a final decision on a location would cause any harm.   Crandel said more detailed documentation on Technology Plus’ findings will be prepared in time for the June 19th CRCA Board meeting.