Sign flap, dispatch disconnect for county board

Missy Whittington , New Monroe County human resource director

The Monroe County Board meeting opened Monday morning with strong words concerning the display of a sign by local resident Patrick Kelly. 

Kelly has frequently voiced displeasure with difficulty clearly hearing discussions by county commissioners at meetings. He brought a 12-by-30-inch sign to the April 1 meeting with the message “I can’t hear you” and raised it several times during that session.

Kelly was informed prior to Monday’s meeting that at Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing’s direction, he was not to bring the sign.

Kelly told the Republic-Times he has expressed difficulty hearing conversations for five months now and nothing has been done.  He has voiced this issue especially since board meetings were moved to the old courtroom to accommodate large groups of attendees.  

Kelly added that others have shared and expressed the same concern.

Monroe County Board Bob Elmore has indicated to Kelly several times the county is exploring improvements to the current sound system to include more microphones. 

Kelly said he does not feel his concerns have been taken seriously and that even with more microphones, people speaking will still need to be more attentive about talking into them.

Rohlfing said he deemed the sign and its use to be disruptive and instructed that it was not to be brought into the meetings. Rohlfing said the issue was the sign and its use, and there was no question about Kelly’s right to ask questions, make comments or other inputs when called on in the same manner as all citizens. 

Kelly said he disagreed with the sheriff’s action and is consulting with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office on the matter.

Also at the meeting, Monroe County’s new human resources director was introduced. Missy Whittington of Valmeyer previously worked in human resources and community relations for 30 years at Walmart.

Whittington replaces Annmarie Marcuson, who left her position earlier this year.

The controversy over public service dispatching costs continued to bubble, as commissioners reviewed concerns that Waterloo is not bearing its fair share of the financial load for services provided by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department dispatching center.

Since 2011, Waterloo has been charged $143,100 per year for the service, which was calculated based on requiring the full time of 2.25 dispatchers. That amount has not changed since a contract was agreed upon. 

The commissioners recently submitted an invoice to Waterloo increasing the bill to $195,231.91 per year as of May 1, to cover three dispatchers for around-the-clock service. They noted the original amount billed has not increased in eight years while the volume of services has increased and cost of providing them has also climbed significantly.  

Monroe County’s dispatchers serve all of the county minus Columbia, which has its own telecommunicators. The commissioners reiterated that based on call volumes, Waterloo should pay $218,399.43.  

The county board noted that while increased costs for water, electricity and sewage service provided by Waterloo to county facilities is passed through as increases occur, this has not been the case with the rising dispatching costs.

In other business, Monroe County Engineer Aaron Metzger brought a project to commissioners to build a sidewalk along the south side of Country Club Lane from Rogers Street to Route 3. The project is part of a county-city effort to provide a healthy walking path from Vandebrook Road along up and across Route 3 to connect with this project.

Three bids were received, and commissioners authorized the award to Huebner Concrete Contracting in the amount of $110,560.64. Work is targeted for completion before July 1.

Metzger was also authorized to order 12 new Starcom portable radios for use by highway department employees.  Existing radios do not interface with the bi-state radio system that connects emergency service providers on both sides of the river.  The radios will come from the St. Clair County Bulk Radio Purchase program at an estimated cost of $20,000.

Kim Keckritz and Rachel Giffhorn reported to commissioners on Oak Hill that while some numbers have climbed and others fell, overall the facility remains operating well.  Work continues on Oak Hill’s fire sprinkler system, Keckritz reported, with completion expected by the end of June. 

Other work includes plans to widen the single lane drive around the facility past Evergreen Pointe to two-lanes to facilitate safe traffic flow and restoration of the parking lot and rest of the drive at Oak Hill.  Moore Asphalt of Millstadt will carry out both projects for $22,000 and $29,000, respectively.

Monroe County Ambulance Service Director Carla Heise was authorized in unanimous resolutions to add three new items of patient handling equipment for their use. Two items work together and can lift patients weighing up to 700 pounds and move them safely into ambulances.  They are an MTS Power Load,for $22,661.23 and a Power-Pro XT Stretcher for $20,226.20. The two will come from Stryker of Chicago.  

A third item for the service is a new X-Series Manual Monitor/Defibrillator/Printer being obtained from Zoll Medical Corporation in Chelmsford, Mass., at a cost of $35,992.10.

The session concluded with unanimous approval of five resolutions of reappointment to districts and one new appointment. Reappointed to area fire protection districts were Dennis Kleinschmidt of Millstadt to the Columbia Fire Protection District; John Kaiser of New Athens, to the Hecker Fire Protection Districts; and Randy Rusteberg of Fults and Mike Fausz of Maeystown, to the Maeystown Fire Protection District. Eric Osterhage of Waterloo was appointed to the Waterloo Fire Protection District to replace Arnold Matzenbacher, who had resigned.  

Roger Taake of Fults was reappointed to the Fountain Water District.

The next meeting of the Monroe County Board will be 8:15 a.m. May 6.

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