By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Leader & Times
A grant received from the Enhanced-911 Fund will not only drastically improve Seward County’s 911 system, but will also allow the Liberal Police Department and the Seward County Sheriff’s Office purchase the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system that has been in the works for some time. LPD Chief Al Sill accredits Catherine Byrd and Pam Johnson with the the approval of the grant and ultimate award of the funds.
Sill explained the situation to city commissioners during its regular meeting Monday evening.
“Earlier this year, Catherine Byrd, who is our records supervisor and Pam Johnson, who is our communications director, wrote a grant and submitted it to the Enhanced-911 Fund,” Sill said. “Just a little over a week ago, we received notification from the fund that we were awarded the grant in the amount that we wrote. We wrote it in an amount of $290,150. It was actually two separate grants broken down under one system. $143,000 of that was intended for our CAD project which we have been working on for a little over a year now and the other portion of that was in the amount of $147,000 and it was to enhance our communications center.”
Sill continued by explaining the wear and tear the communications center undergoes.
“As you are aware, the communications center operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round,” he said. “The equipment that is housed in that communications center goes through quite a bit of use on a continual basis. That use obviously wears equipment down. So, every four to five years, we need to look at a means to replace that with new equipment. With this grant, it is a state funded grant, we have managed to receive 100 percent funding through this grant for the replacement of that equipment.”
Sill informed commissioners the grant will also aid in the purchase of the CAD system, however, he opted to wait until the end of his presentation to tell them exactly how much the funds, along with a little negotiating, helped the process along.
“On top of that, we also wrote the grant so we could actually purchase the new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, which would complement our software system that we have been working on for some time,” he said. “So, the purpose of tonight’s meeting is to inform you of the money that we have received from that grant. These ladies have worked together for the grant and because of their efforts we were awarded a considerable amount of money that is going to be put to good use.”
Sill said he, along with Sheriff Bill McBryde, Byrd and Johnson negotiated with Spillman Technologies of Salt Lake City in order to lower the cost of the CAD system so it would be possible for the city and county departments to purchase.
“If you recall, back on the packet that I gave you some time ago, the initial cost of this project was going to range anywhere between $600,000 to $1 million,” Sill said. “We worked very hard to get that reduced to a manageable amount and we ended up getting that down to about $450,000, but at that particular time, it did not contain a lot of the modules that we felt were critical to our needs. So, as we added those modules in, that increased our price up to $486,000 and that is where we were stuck at for quite some time.
“As I mentioned before, we received a $200,000 COPS Grant from Jerry Moran’s office, we have now received $143,000 from the E-911 Grant system and the sheriff’s office was able to secure some private donations,” he continued. “So, combining all of that together, we ended up being $33,000 short.
“Knowing that money is tight everywhere across the board these days, we contacted Spillman for additional negotiations,” he explained. “At the end of these negotiations, and this was a combined effort with (Byrd and Johnson) and the sheriff and I, knocked off the $33,000 that we were short. So, now we are sitting at $453,000 for this project and it will be 100 percent funded through monies outside taxpayers dollars. With that, the only stipulation, is Spillman Technologies is very anxious to get this project underway and they want some commitment from us by the end of the year.”
Sill asked permission to go forward with the project, pending the legal department’s approval of all agreements with Spillman. With Commissioner Bob Carlile absent, the four present commissioners unanimously approved the acceptance of the grant as well as to allow Sill to move forward with the purchase of the CAD system.
“You all do a very good job for the community” Commissioner Larry Koochel said to Sill, Byrd and Johnson. “It is essential to have good 911 service and I know there have been numerous cities around come in and look at the system that we have got right there. So, thank you, from all of us.”