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9-1-1 Commission chooses site near Marshall airport for proposed central dispatch center

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The site chosen for the proposed central emergency dispatch center is near the Marshall Municipal Airport, adjacent to the new Shirley Martin Community Center/Nicholas-Beazley Aviation Museum. The land is currently owned by the city of Marshall.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
Editor's note: Additional information was added to this story Thursday, May 1, at 1:45 p.m.

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 marshallhealth@socket.net

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I think the new ambulance building would have fit in better with all of the other new buildings going up in town if it were a wick building. Look at all of the nice pole barns that have been build along Arrow and Odell streets and called business or offices. Or maybe we have enough pole barns in town.

-- Posted by River Ratt on Sat, May 3, 2008, at 6:01 PM

To clarify the rating system used by the 9-1-1 commission:

There are ten major criteria, broken down into 50 characteristics. These characteristics are weighted with values: 1 (desired characteristic), 2(important characteristics) and 3 (critical characteristic). Point values for each site are assigned a value from 1 to 5, depending on how well the rater thinks that characteristic was met by the site in question. The point value are multiplied by their weights, and the result is the total score of that site. So - if a characteristic is judged to have a weight of 3 and the rater thinks the site fully met that characteristic, the point value would 3 x 5, or 15 points.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Sat, May 3, 2008, at 12:19 PM

I'd like to comment on the new ambulance building in Marshall being referred to as the "Taj Mahal."

It's a nice-looking building on a main street close to the courthouse square. Had it been constructed as something resembling a concrete bunker, I think we'd have many more complaints. This is my opinion only, but I do think that public buildings should at the very least be something we can look at without wincing.

It's true that the money spent on it came from tax dollars. However, it should also be noted that money to replace the older building was set aside over a period of years, specifically to pay for the new building, which, it seems to me, was wise stewardship of tax money on the part of the ambulance district board. Over time, the old building became cramped and inadequate and needed to be replaced - when the time came, the money was available.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Sat, May 3, 2008, at 7:08 AM

saline mo - Please clarify what you said about "price, money, or costs" on the RFP. It's my understanding that this referred to the actual cost of the property itself, not to any other cost consideration, but if I am wrong on that, please let me know.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Fri, May 2, 2008, at 7:09 PM

saline mo,

You are right it was not in the guidelines that are listed in the article. After re-reading the article, I realized I had in fact missed it.

With some luck when Kathy Fairchild completes her story regarding the matter, a lot of our questions will be answered and some of the issues could be resolved.

Until then stay in touch with your elected officials regarding the issues, hold them accountable for their actions, and attend the meetings. It is a good reminder from time to time that they are elected to represent the public interest and not their own.

-- Posted by Concerned007 on Fri, May 2, 2008, at 2:10 PM

"A site in Sweet Springs was eliminated from consideration altogether, due to the costs of demolition for an existing building. 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."

There was nothing in the guidelines about existing buildings or industrial parks. 'Due to costs'; the RFP specifically stated that prices, money or costs were not to be included or discussed. Another example of the committee saying one thing and then doing another.

-- Posted by saline mo on Fri, May 2, 2008, at 12:35 PM

We are working on a detailed story about the site selection. The volume of material we received late yesterday afternoon, and the need to contact as many (hopefully, all) of the commission members as possible to give them an opportunity to comment didn't give us enough time to get the story out today.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Fri, May 2, 2008, at 11:20 AM

I am by no means trying to adovacate that one location is better than the other. I am simply vocing concerns and observations that I have formulated from my observations as well.

I did not think this had turned into any type of bodily excreation contest, I hoped it was an intelligent discussion.

All I can say is lets go to the meetings, talked to our elected officials, and make this 911 center happen in a way to benefit all of Saline County.

-- Posted by Concerned007 on Fri, May 2, 2008, at 11:16 AM

Smokin' Cheetah,

After reading another one of your posts regarding this matter where you talk about the guidelines and selection process of sites for the 911 center.

You appear to be an advocate for Marshall and there is nothing wrong with that, but why is there a concern about the "the aesthetics and cosmetics" of the area an issue. The "Taj Mahal" that everyone is in a uproar over due to "the aesthetics and cosmetics" doesn't need to be repeated, this needs to be a sound and functional facility, not a pretty one. The money used to build this facility are coming from taxpayers for one and for second, if you spend extra money for "the aesthetics and cosmetics" won't that take away from the money that is left over that should be used for operating costs?

I agree the progress in Southern Marshall is a nice improvement, but it is not the only location in Saline County.

You do not outwardly suggest that the rest of Saline County is traveling in the stone age and other than Marshall the only other town I have spent some time in has been Slater.

Last I checked there is an AT&T substation in Slater, so I would think that the communications in the area would be up to speed with the times. Also according to this fine newspaper, Slater has also completed major work as well when it comes to sewer, drainage, and water systems. So Marshall is not the only area that is attempting to improve their fine city.

I also believe this might be addressed today as well and maybe Kathy Fairchild can clarify it too, when I inquired about the summary of the site proposals, it was said that Marshall had offered the sites at no cost or the implication was made to that at least. Why is there a price being negotiated all of a sudden?

-- Posted by Concerned007 on Fri, May 2, 2008, at 10:37 AM

Smokin' Cheetah,

Thank you for your input regarding your observations, the further development in the area seems to be small according to your observations and that is a good thing.

Not taking anything away from Mr. Allred's achievements as a pilot, but the matter of possible radio interfence from the airport might need to be addressed to see if it will be an issue, before the 911 center is built. Finding out it will be a problem afterwards would not be a good thing for anyone.

-- Posted by Concerned007 on Fri, May 2, 2008, at 9:38 AM

I never said that the building needs to be in Slater. I am just pointing out odd things that stood out about the way the Slater site was looked at or disregarded. I also pointed out concerns about that site that was selected.

Another point about the current site, what if more development takes place in or around it? How will that affect the 911 center?

-- Posted by Concerned007 on Fri, May 2, 2008, at 12:21 AM

Oh, I am so sorry for spelling think as thing. I am sure all the proof readers out there will be on that quick.......

-- Posted by IPOH on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 11:44 PM

I wish you all would take a moment to think before spouting your yaps!! If you thing this building is going to be an elaborate "mansion" think again. First, the main "dispatch center" will NEVER be accessable to the public. Second, what the heck do you all think is going to happen in this building, tea and crumpet parties, I think not. People who work there will be in a room for 8 hours and answer EVERY SINGLE emergency call in this county. What difference does it make where it is. It makes perfect sense to have it in the middle of the county so radio traffic can be equally distributed in strength. If you put that building in Slater, how strong a signal are you going to have to put out to reach Sweet Springs.....Jeez people think a little bit. Oh I forgot most of you commenting have NO FREAKIN CLUE on how the real world operates. enough said

-- Posted by IPOH on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 11:42 PM

I do not understand why there seems to be a prejudice or a preconceived notion that the 911 Emergency Dispatch Center needs to be in the county seat, in Marshall, or any particular place. The purpose of the center is to centralize emergency response to the citizens of Saline County.

I have read through the article and this disturbs me…"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."

The "Slater Airport" is located next to one building that is not longer being used by any business or individual. An unused building makes an industrial park?! Is it right that at least one person did not rate this site due to this?? Another question, the guidelines state that the center should be remote from certain manufacturing areas, was it ever decided what type of manufacturing it needed to be remote from?

Now I do not think that the center should be placed in Slater, I think it should be placed in the location that will benefit all of Saline County. It just makes me wonder if certain members of the board did not already have things planned out and pushed things in the direction that they wanted.

I will point out other things that stood out to me, first being the center has been approved to be on location at an airport that has semi-regular air traffic I assume. I do not sit and count the planes that go in and out of the airport, but since an expansion was made I would assume they have a reasonable amount of air traffic. If there is a problem with an incoming aircraft, mechanical malfunction, pilot error, or any other potential problems that could occur with an aircraft will that harm, disable, or disrupt 911 communication?

Another issue/question that I have is the board seems to enforce guidelines for sites they do not want and over look them for sites that they do. The guideline I refer to, The site should be located outside of radio interference. I would think that the electronics from an airport could possibly cause radio interference, wouldn't you?

I would also like to point out that 911 centers are not pretty, do not have to look pretty, they need to be sound buildings and functional. I see several people that have posted in the comments that they are upset over the new Saline County Ambulance District Building. That being said that leaves two options to the boards, the first being the design or building itself will take away from the beauty of the Martin Community Center or the second being "Taj Mahal 2" being built. As citizens of Saline County how do you want your tax dollars spent, effectively or mismanaged.

-- Posted by Concerned007 on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 10:29 PM

Sorry, my error - I confirmed with Slater officials yesterday, not today.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 7:08 PM

I confirmed this morning with Slater officials that they were donating the site.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 7:07 PM

The voters wanted a 911 center, they then chose the board. They knew they were voting for an ambulance board member responsible for the tajmahal. They also knew they were voting for 3 members of the fire dept (so half of the board is MFD).

Personally, I don't see what either town has to gain by having it in their town. They could put it on the moon for all I care so long as it works like it is supposed to.

My biggest complaint about the whole thing is that they will be hiring dispatchers at a starting salary higher than some of our local officers, and EMS personnel make. That just seems wrong to me. Several local dispatchers will lose their jobs so they can hire people in (not locally I'm sure) at higher pay than the person who may one day save your life?

All I can say is the voters are responsible. So when they start building a building to rival NORAD at our expense, local people join the unemployment lines, and the building is painted red with a dalmation sitting out front....that's kinda what you get when you don't pay attention when casting your ballot or don't vote at all.

-- Posted by moodyblue on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 6:38 PM

I believe if you read the proposal from Slater, you will not find the word "free" mentioned. It does use the words "provide" and "furnish". Since the minutes of the commission state that the Slater and Marshall site(s)were offered "free", why is there now negotiations going on as to a purchase price? But let's not quibble about such trivial matters as 'guidelines' or 'costs' since they are not (for some unknown reason) part of this decision making process.

-- Posted by saline mo on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 6:13 PM

I should add that we also do not know for certain if the commission members had that information or not. Those who submitted properties for consideration were specifically told not to include that information on their bids.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 5:38 PM

At the time of publication of the story today, the newspaper had no information on asking prices (if any) of any of the properties, other than that the Slater property was offered at no cost. As of this writing, we still do not have any price/cost information on any of the other properties considered. If and when we get that information, I assume we will publish it.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 5:34 PM

"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."

Outside apperance of the building?? What/how does this apply to "site" location?

"All Factors....."..............well all factors except for money No consideration was given to costs!?? How can you consider "all factors" when you don't have any idea nor given any consideration to what the final cost of the project is? If someone can save the citizens some money, I don't care if the center is located in Gilliam, Nelson or Arrow Rock. I guess it is easy to spend money when someone else is paying the bill.

-- Posted by saline mo on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 3:01 PM

Very Good yomomma, i wouldnt go as far as calling it sarcasim, i would drop it down the line of trying to be funny and you need to work on that, Best Regards

-- Posted by SalineFire on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 2:58 PM

Salinefire-"State of the art airport" I believe is sarcasim. Sorry to confuse you!

-- Posted by yomomma on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 2:52 PM

How big an idiot do you have to be to expect the the 911 place to be in Slater. If everything else was equal, half of the population of the county live in Marshall. Marshall is the county seat. They would be stupid not to put it there. Anyone who votes against putting it in Marshall surely can't be thinking about what is best for the whole county. Even if Steve McQueen did sleep in Slater once.

And why should the people of Marshall, or Slater have to pay twice because the 911 place is in their town. Everybody is paying the tax. Shouldn't the group collecting the tax pay their own way. If either town gives away their property, then the people of that town are footing the bill and the service ends up costing them more than it cost everyone else. Not really too fair in my book.

And why does the Slater mayor have to show his butt by announcing to the world that his top priority for the town is to have the 911 place there. He is most definately inpartial. Maybe his goal for 2009 should be to get the Governors Mansion moved to Slater. He might decide that that would be a good use for his airport.

-- Posted by River Ratt on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 2:38 PM

The beautiful new building at the corner of English and Arrow is the home of Marshall's ambulance district. Criteria for the 9-1-1 Center precluded locating it in that or any other building already serving as the home of emergency services.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 1:51 PM

I have no problem with the site being in Marshall, the county seat, but I do wonder why it isn't in that big beautiful new building at the corner of English and Arrow streets. This seems like the logical place to me.

-- Posted by songwriter on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 1:40 PM

Everyone Knew in the back of their minds this would be in Marshall so its no big suprise. Its a shame that the top three locations of interest where the Marshall Area when you have a Stacked Deck on the Board. For the center itself No matter where its located in the county it will serve the county. and to "yomomma" the only place with a state of the art airport is Marshall take a drive out by it sometime. they just droped a LARGE amount of money on it....

-- Posted by SalineFire on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 10:02 AM

Why would Slater want to close its only "state of the art airport" just so they can have the 911 center? Sounds like a good idea, NOT!!

-- Posted by yomomma on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 7:32 AM

It is so sad when you have a board that against the rest of the county, and why?It sure appears that one person tells some of the board (Who work for him) what to do, that is a shame, thank goodness for two board members who truely care about the whole county and the taxpayers that stood up for what was right, the rest of the board is a sham, and who is the biggest loser, the Saline County taxpayer. Everyone should be very upset with the rest of the board, they need to be fair about their comments and voting. The majority of the 911 board is not for the taxpayer, they are for their own gain.

-- Posted by saline on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 7:26 AM

Without addressing the sensitive issue of where the 911 center will be located, I do want to stress that wherever it is, the rest of the county will not be left to its own devices for 911 service. The whole point of the call center is that it serves ALL of the county, no matter where it is. This is a dispatching center for 911 calls throughout the county, not an emergency shelter and not a place where ambulance, fire, police and other services will be located.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 6:25 AM

Sounds to me that this 911 site selection was a typical Marshall-Saline County decision. Maybe the "Wise Owls" ought to change their names to the "Sneaky Snakes". I hope the Saline County citizens really start watching this thing unfold and attend the meeting, question plans, etc.. or we will have another Tashmahal (like the Ambulance building) at our expense.

If you don't know, 911 has one of the same board members as the Ambulance that apparently doesn't think there is a budget with taxpayers money. If we aren't careful, with Rieves running the show and two other fireman on the board, the 911 building might have a new fire truck sitting in it.

Remember a few years ago, the city tried to combine a park/fire dept tax to build a station in the southern part of Marshall. It failed, but the park passed overwhelmingly on its own a year later.

Wake up Saline County, this is County Wide 911, not Rieves or Marshall Fires 911. Hold the board accountable to how they spend our money.

-- Posted by prd123 on Wed, Apr 30, 2008, at 9:35 PM

As I said on the "Speak Out" blog, we hope to have additional information tomorrow.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Wed, Apr 30, 2008, at 7:11 PM

it appears that the majority of the 911 board does not care about cost. the board should make public all of the contents of the proposals, then we can see why they made this decision. i believe that this decision was made some time ago, the deck was stacked early by the county commission. i am very disappointed in the 911 board, i see what direction they always intend to lean to.

-- Posted by saline on Wed, Apr 30, 2008, at 6:22 PM

The Slater site was offered at no cost...apparently they just want to spend money....

-- Posted by onpoint on Wed, Apr 30, 2008, at 6:17 PM

I see it is business as usual for county services/911 site selection. "The unofficial site selection guidelines......"; if they are/were unofficial why was this not made public? I would guess that if the 'guidelines' were not official many more property owners would have submitted proposals. On the "scoring sheet", it is my understanding that one member rated Slater' site with a rating of ZERO (0); how can that be possible when that site met every single criteria listed by the committee? Since it has been publicly been stated by one committee member that the center would be located in Slater "only over my dead body...." it would seem there was some preconceived ideas before the process even began. I would be interested in a public posting of the ratings, who made them, what the grades are and what was done to assure it was done fairly? As elected officials, the public has a right to know this information; but of course it makes no difference since has already been shown that 'guidelines' make no difference in the decision making process.

-- Posted by saline mo on Wed, Apr 30, 2008, at 6:07 PM

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