Cost of equipment to be reimbursed through Homeland Security grants

Mauricio Cuellar Jr., Orange Grove Journal

Jim Wells County Commissioner's approved an adjustment in revenue of $287,657.15 in the Emergency Management Department budget to account for a Homeland Security grant, which will go toward improved digital communication across the county.

The court at the same time approved an expenditure of $20,000 from the county's general fund balance reserves to go as a contribution to the City of Alice for its siren system, which warns residents of tornado activities and emergencies.

The grant includes over $57,000 worth of radios for the county to utilize as it attempts to make the transition to a digital, encrypted communication system.

The funds were also spent on network interfacing, dispatch consoles and repeaters, which will be utilized in Premont and Orange Grove, to improve the current intermittent communication experienced by officers and workers throughout the county.

Commissioner Oswald Alanis said the county will be reimbursed through the grant as funding comes in from Homeland Security.

The troubled communications currently experienced in the southern part of JWC should be remedied by these purchases, Alanis said.

Interim Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Karin Knolle came before the court with her request for two computers, satellite Internet connection and networking of the programs pertaining to her duties.

Knolle told commissioners her computers are several years old and currently run on a dial-up connection. DSL is not available in the Sandia area, and most residents either use dial up or satellite connections.

Knolle priced two Dell Computers at slightly more than $2,000, along with the satellite connection, which would run $20 more per month than the dial up, she said.

Commissioner's agreed there were funds available through the county's technology fund to allow for the needed purchases.

Also on Friday, the court appointed the same members to the JWC Historical Commission as last year, after receiving information from commission chairman Homero Vera.

The CHC works closely with both county officials and members of the Texas Historical Commission, who are in charge of distributing state funds for courthouse renovations across the state.

County officials submitted a courthouse master plan earlier this year to THC for consideration in the funding process.

The 2007-2008 JWCHC member appointments this year include Homero Vera, Nelda Garcia, Yolanda Moran, Eunice Wells, Abelardo Gonzalez, Antonio Bill, Edwin Goldapp, Katie Barrera, Elva Garcia, Servando Hinojosa and Joyce Dunn.

Commissioners also received information from Sylvia Barrera, Director of La Paloma Emergency Medical, as part of their request for a $2,000 stipend for their services in the southern portion of JWC.

The company provides 24-hour service to residents in that area, with one 24-hour truck on duty and one 12-hour truck on duty. All of their vehicles are Medical Intensive Care (MIC) Units, Barrera said, capable of providing advanced life support.

So far this year, La Paloma has responded to 66 9-1-1 calls from JWC, with a total of several thousand dollars worth of billable charges lost for their service.

Barrera said the company has never received any form of contribution from the county, and that if possible would like to receive the stipend to help with the costs.

"We are a not-for-profit," Barrera said, "…we don't require mega dollars to operate."

Saenz was absent during the meeting, and the commissioners stated that they would table the item until the July 9 meeting, since the funds would be coming from the general fund, and Saenz would be signing the check.

Alanis also said contracts for county EMS service would be coming up soon, and he encouraged Barrera to be involved in the process when the county goes out for bids.