Congressman visits new E-911 Center

Thursday, August 28, 2008
On Aug. 21, the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting at the Barry County E-911 Operations Center, which is located on Business 37 north of Cassville. Congressman Roy Blunt attended the event to tour the facility and offer congratulatory statements to the citizens of Barry County who approved the formation of the county-wide 911 system and construction of the operations center in June of 2005. Pictured above, in the front row, from left, are: Blunt; and Bill Shiveley, Barry County E-911 Emergency Services Board chair. Second row: Donald Ness, of Corner and Ness Architects, Inc.; Donna Hayes; Amy White, Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce executive director; Pat Leighter, Barry County E-911 director; Cassville Mayor Tracy Holle; Valarie Hutchens; and Jo Anne Ellis. Third row: Harold Schelin, Leonard Witt and Bob Lombard, E-911 board members; David Payne; Richard Asbill; and Virgil Harrington. Fourth row: Lois Lowe; Sherry Smith-Reynolds; Nicki Gamet; John Adlin; Amy Patillo; and Rose Youngblood. Fifth row: Janice Varner; Justin Gates; June Smith; Kay Lombard; Lindy Lombard; Landon Fletcher; Mike McCracken; Dave Steinmann; and Rusty Rickard. Democrat Photo

On Aug. 21, Congressman Roy Blunt visited Barry County to tour the new E-911 Operations Center and discuss emergency response issues with firefighters and first responders at the Purdy Fire Station.

"The Barry County Operations Center is a huge accomplishment for the county," Blunt said during a Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony held at the new E-911 facility last Thursday. "I'm really proud of the county taxpayers who decided that this was something they wanted to do.

"It is good to see people decide what they want and take the steps to make something like this work," said Blunt.

After touring the Barry County E-911 Operations Center, Blunt headed north to the Purdy Fire Station to meet with local firefighters to discuss the county's new pager system, which was purchased with a $158,255 Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters Grant this year.

"Barry County fire districts have done some very significant things over the last five or six years," said Blunt. "They are unbelievably competitive about fire grants and almost every department has received at least one significant item."

Blunt estimated that southern Barry County fire departments and districts have received grants totalling close to $2 million over the last five years.

"I don't think any area has received more than that," said Blunt. "I want to congratulate you all for this huge accomplishment. It has made a difference in what you can do and how you do it by increasing the safety and training of your volunteers."

Blunt commented that many of Barry County's fire departments were active in promoting the county-wide E-911 system that voters approved in June of 2005.

"I have been told that the dispatching center would not have been built if the fire districts hadn't decided that they wanted to make it happen," said Blunt. "You have made a dramatic change in a very short period of time."

In addition to discussing grant awards and new equipment, firefighters and first responders attending the meeting shared their concerns about increased fuel costs and workman's compensation insurance with Blunt.

Wheaton Fire Chief Bob Lombard said that his fire department's fuel costs have nearly tripled. The Eagle Rock-Golden-Mano (ERGM) Fire Protection District's fuel costs have quadrupled, said ERGM Fire Chief Ron Creek.

"Fuel costs are really killing us," said Lombard, "but if we get a call, we go."

In addition to visiting the Barry County E-911 Operations Center and the Purdy Fire Station, Blunt stopped in Branson West at the Southern Stone County Fire Department to view new communications equipment.

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