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As jail opening nears, new dispatch equipment needed

With the new Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and jail set to open soon, the Pierce County Board held a discussion to approve using monies from the Jail Assessment Fund to upgrade the dispatch center at its July 25 board meeting. No action was taken during the discussion. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia

As a part of an upgrade to the dispatch center at the new Pierce County Jail, the Pierce County Board held a discussion at its monthly board meeting July 25 on equipment that will help those do their jobs more effectively.

At the July 10 Finance and Personnel Committee meeting, Pierce County Sheriff Chief Deputy Jason Matthys asked the committee to approve upgrading the current dispatch microwave radios, replacing and upgrading the existing servers and purchasing new furniture. The Finance and Personnel Committee approved the proposal at that meeting.

County Board Supervisor Jon Aubart (River Falls) said the microwave radio link from the current tower to the new building was not part of the original project's cost. The resolution considered was going to use monies from the Undesignated Fund Balance and Jail Assessment Fund to help pay for the costs of this equipment.

Aubart said the alternative would be building another tower. Instead of building a new tower or moving old equipment over that will need to be replaced inevitably, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee decided linking the new microwave lines to the old tower will save in "excess of $100,000."

County Board Supervisor Michael Kahlow (River Falls) made a motion to suspend the rules and waive the reading when the resolution was introduced by Chair Jeff Holst (Hager City), with all approving but County Board Supervisor Ben Plunkett (River Falls).

Plunkett questioned the source of the Jail Assessment Funds, with Aubart answering that those funds are "limited" and must be spent on specific items. Aubart estimated roughly $40,000 is set aside "annually." Corporation Counsel Bradley Lawrence said the Jail Assessment Fund balance is roughly $172,000.

There was no action taken on the resolution at this time.

The board will hold its next meeting at 7 p.m. Aug. 22 in the Pierce County Courthouse board room.

Other business

• The board held a first reading on a resolution to amend the normal business hours for county departments. The resolution would amend hours to be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with department heads' ability to be more flexible with their open and close times; however, offices would be required to be open during that window. No action was taken.

• The board unanimously approved a resolution to amend a policy to reimburse eligible maintenance department employees for prescription safety glasses by including those glasses into the protective footwear program.

• The board unanimously approved a resolution to amend a policy regarding the Employee Security Policy.

• The board unanimously approved a resolution to order a deed to Pierce County for a property that is subject to tax certificate. The parcel is nearly six village lots in

Block 20 of the original plat of Maiden Rock. The property is vacant and mostly wooded, with extremely steep terrain but part may be suitable building sites. The lots have public road frontage. Owners John H. & Jane D. Buxell have not been responsive to the notices served.

• The board held a first reading to amend Chapter 232 in the Pierce County Comprehensive Plan. No action was taken.

Matthew Lambert

Matthew Lambert joined the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal in December 2016 covering government, school board, and writing features about the community. He is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism.