Pamela Teague, new director of the 9-1-1 dispatch center for Saline County, released minutes of Monday's closed session of the commission late Wednesday, April 30, announcing the commission's decision to build the center on a tract of land adjacent to the new Shirley Martin Community Center/Nicholas-Beazley Aviation Museum, near the Marshall Municipal Airport.
Present at the meeting were commission members John Fletcher, John Rieves, Jack Lenz, Cindy Schroeder, Cathie Jefferies, Corbin Allred and Jesse Coslet. Also in attendance were Teague, Geo-Comm Consultant Jane Bevans and Attorney Don Stouffer.
Eight sites were considered for the project, including five in and around Marshall (three of which were offered by the city of Marshall), one in Slater, one in Sweet Springs and another at the intersection of Highways 240 and 41, four miles east of Marshall.
Site evaluation score sheets gave the most points (2,361) to the city of Marshall's proposal for the site on South Odell Avenue.
A committee consisting of commission members Fletcher, Rieves and Allred was appointed to negotiate a purchase price for the site with the city of Marshall, and met with Marshall Mayor Connie Latimer Tuesday, April 29, to begin discussions.
A site at the intersection of Highways 240 and 41, approximately four miles east of Marshall, was rated at 2,306 points.
The property offered by Midwest LLC garnered 1,958 points, followed by a site offered at no cost by the City of Slater with 1,911 points.
A site in Sweet Springs was eliminated from consideration altogether, due to the costs of demolition for an existing building.
The commission toured the sites April 18.
Minutes released by the 9-1-1 commission did not give any details regarding how the point totals were assigned.
Teague said details of scoring and ratings for the sites, beyond those in the minutes released yesterday, will be available to The Marshall Democrat-News Friday, May 2.
According to the minutes provided, commission members considered the needs of the building regarding location, size of the building, the outside appearance of the building, security of the building and the importance of considering all of the factors pertaining to each site.
The vote was not unanimous; commission members Lenz of Marshall and Jefferies of Slater voted against the Marshall site.
The announcement ends several months of discussion and speculation throughout the county about the best location for the center.
City officials in Slater have missed no opportunity to insist their city be given "at least fair consideration," and "a level playing field" with other sites.
Mayor Stephen Allegri and Assistant City Administrator Gene Griffith have been very outspoken in promoting their town as a good location for the center. The Slater site was offered to the commission at no cost.
All commission members, with the exception of Jefferies of Slater, are Marshall residents.
Commission President Fletcher said Thursday, May 1, he knew there would be controversy about placing the dispatch center in Marshall.
"Everybody has strong feelings," he said.
Fletcher said he had not seen scores submitted for the sites by other members of the commission, but said he didn't feel any of the locations considered were treated unfairly.
Teague commented Thursday morning that two of the sites were unrated by at least one of the commissioners, who felt their location in industrial parks made them inappropriate for a dispatch center. This includes the site in Slater.
Bids were solicited by the commission early this year, and were submitted as open bids, without a price attached. Commissioners said their attorney, Don Stouffer, advised the group that if bids were submitted with prices, the bids would have to be sealed.
Earlier this year, commission member Rieves said the unofficial site selection guidelines contained "an extensive site characteristics list" that was developed after "a lot of research."
Among the guidelines were that the center should be remote from man-made disaster threats such as chemical and fuel storage, railroad tracks, highways and hazardous routes, certain manufacturing areas and grain storage facilities.
The site should also be located outside flood plains and far from livestock operations, radio interference sources, cultural or historical assets and designated wetlands, according to the list.
Additional considerations included proximity to the county seat, conveniently accessible for those needing to visit the site to apply for new addresses. It's also important the site not be located close to other emergency facilities such as fire or police departments.
A building committee, consisting of all commission members, was formed. Bevans will provide a list of architects and design-build firms with prior experience building similar centers.
By statute, the center must be in operation within 36 months of the beginning of the collection of the sales tax that will fund it. That means the center must be completed no later than April 2010.
Fletcher said his "personal goal," is to have the center in operation by the last quarter of 2009, and added, "I don't know if that's doable or not, but that's my goal."
The next meeting of the commission will be Tuesday, May 6, at 5:30 p.m. at the Municipal Court Building in Marshall.
Contact Kathy Fairchild at email@example.com