County mulls 911 system change

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In the wake of last week’s temporary failure of the 911 call system, Monroe County Public Safety Director Kevin Scheibe sought approval from commissioners Monday to change companies providing that service. 

Last Tuesday morning, Frontier Communications had notified Monroe County of a 911 outage involving wireless calls. This matter was resolved later in the day. 

Scheibe noted at the Monroe County Board meeting that Frontier Communications has served the county for many years but for several reasons – including aging infrastructure – there have been an increasing number of system failures in recent years. There have been three in the past year alone.  

The 911 board has been discussing options, including carrier NDIGITAL,  which serves neighboring Randolph County. Due to a need to replace existing computer servers and other infrastructure if a new service took over, it would take about four months to effect a change.

The commissioners said they would unanimously support the 911 Board’s decision.

In other matters, University of Illinois Extension County Director Amy Cope concluded discussions of the lease of office space at the Monroe County Annex.  The county and U of I Extension agreed on lease costs for the next three years. The lease calls for payment of $3,687 per month, which will increase to $3,789.42 and $3,891.84 per month in the following three years.

It was also noted that Monroe County Emergency Management Agency personnel have been using space in the meeting area of the Annex during the pandemic, and commissioners agreed to refund $250 per month in compensation until that area is returned to the U of I Extension for its use.

Monroe County Engineer Aaron Metzger received approval to move ahead on Phase II of resurfacing Hanover Road.  The work calls for applying a two-inch hot asphalt overlay to 2.2 miles of the road from the old railroad bridge west to west of D Road.  

An estimated cost of the work is $1.1 million, with $400,000 from federal funding and $152,000 in Rebuild Illinois funds paying part of the cost.  Work is expected to start in June.

Details of a COVID relief micro-grant for businesses were outlined by Monroe County Economic Development Corporation head Edie Koch. The program is a cooperative effort between the MCEDC and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.  

It is a USDA effort to support small businesses with 25 or fewer employees in rural areas who are suffering from the pandemic. It has designated $30,000 to fund the program, which will provide grants of $1,000 to $5,000 to eligible businesses. That amount is based on a combination of demonstrated need and numbers of employees. All eligible entries will be considered and a lottery process will be used to select awardees.

Applications will be accepted from 8:30 a.m. Feb. 5 to 5 p.m. Feb. 19.  For more information, visit mciledc.com or email ekoch@mciledc.com.

Representatives of three levee districts in Monroe and Randolph counties – the Springtown, Fort de Chartres and Ivy and Harrisonville Drainage and Levee Districts – told commissioners about problems with necessary repairs to their systems that are being directed but not funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  

They said the levees are physically solid but drainage, seepage control and relief well systems are being identified as needing work to continue to secure federal flood insurance for residents. They estimated costs of $860,000 for the work.

Commissioners told them they could not implement new taxes to fund this work but will draft a letter of support for the levee districts.

Finally, Monroe County Circuit Clerk Lisa Fallon brought a union contract for employees to the attention of the commissioners. It calls for 2 percent pay increases for this year and the next two years and extends time necessary to submit any grievances from five to seven days.

The Monroe County Board will meet next in regular session on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at the courthouse.

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