"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.