The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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January 8, 2013

Telecommunicators push for new office space

CLINTON — The Clinton County 911 emergency communications office is looking for a new home.

The current 911 call center, located in the Clinton Law Center, is a very tight space. Communications Director Eric Dau said the call center and his office together are set up in only 519 square feet.

“I think most people would be shocked to see how small it is,” Dau said in a Monday afternoon interview.

Dau is hoping to see communications staff temporarily moved to a space in the County Administration building that is almost three times the current location’s size. The Clinton County Board of Supervisors and Dau met with emergency and law enforcement personnel from Clinton County, as well as Building Maintenance Manager Corey Johnson, on Monday afternoon. The group toured a portion of the administration building’s basement and discussed the possibility of using it for communications.

Currently, the communications center can fit only three 911 telecommunicators at a time. In an interview following the meeting, Dau said he would like to be able to have a fourth console.

This would allow him to call in another telecommunicator to help during severe weather and winter storms. He is at the stage where he wants a space needs assessment to figure out how much space would be required.

Another concern is that the department’s high-dollar infrastructure is coming to the end of its 10-year life cycle. Dau told those at the meeting that the current system is 12 years old.

“So we’re actually kind of on borrowed time,” Dau said. “The big concern is whether or not we want to pay to have it installed in the law center, with the potential of moving some place else or try to get as much as we can out of the equipment that we have and move someplace else in the mean time.”

Some concerns were raised about the possible move to the administration building. Supervisor Jill Davisson wondered how long is “temporary.” She felt it needed to be several years if the expense and work in renovating the space and moving in was to be worthwhile.

“It’s a really appropriate space here, I think, for what Eric’s (Dau) looking for,” Davisson said. “We just want to make it cost effective, if we do this, for the taxpayers.”

The board is planning to add a large emergency generator to the building to allow it to be a warming and cooling center. Supervisor Brian Schmidt pointed out that if the 911 call center was in the building the generator would have to be even bigger. Johnson said the cost of the generator would most likely be between $350,000 and $400,000.

Police Chief Brian Guy and Fire Chief Mike Brown pointed out that if the space was renovated for communications’ needs, it would have to meet American Disability Act compliance requirements. Brown felt it was important that it be up to code. Guy also worried about whether employees could easily get in and out of the space.

“It seems a little bit cavernous, where they’re located,” Guy said.

Those at the work session also wondered how it would be funded. Dau said one of the funding sources would be the E911 funds, which contain approximately $700,000. He doubted that anything would happen this budget year.

Dau felt the next step would be to approve a request for proposal, which would allow a consultant to come in, look at the current space and see if it is adequate.

Schmidt also suggested that they consider space at the DeWitt annex. The idea was suggested to broaden the RPF to have it examine many of the county buildings.

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