I just found out that by Dec. 31, Barry County 911 service will either be completely suspended or at best -- dramatically reduced -- without an increase in revenue. Right away I began thinking of the consequences:
* Increased homeowner's insurance due to damaged ISO rating (911 is 10 percent of the ISO score).
* Dramatically increased response time for all emergency services.
I was greatly relieved to learn that on Feb. 7 we will have an opportunity to vote for a one-eighth of a cent sales tax. This revenue will keep us from losing our Barry County 911 service.
I recently had to use 911 to report our neighbor's house on fire. The dispatcher calmly gathered information while dispatching emergency vehicles to the fire location. But in the background, even more was going on . . . 911 was providing emergency services, in this case, the fire department and ambulance, with detailed directions to the fire location through their state-of-the-art technology.
Without 911 service, I would have had to stay calm, locate our local fire department's phone number, give them the fire address, give them directions and stay on the line. Because I did not have to go through this painful process, I was able to get back to the fire location and inform people at the scene that dogs were inside the house so they could be rescued.
To put the tax into perspective, someone who purchases $10,000 annually on non-perishable items will pay an additional $12 in sales tax.
Please vote on Feb. 7.
Shell Knob, Missouri
In regards to the proposed sales tax increase for Barry County E-911, the people of Barry County, including those residing inside the City of Monett, need to act to protect their personal safety. It's easy to assume that if you live inside Monett city limits you won't need these services from the county. At least Mayor Orr and the city commissioners have made that assumption. They urged you to vote no in the last election, putting the bad blood involved with the TIF lawsuit over the safety of all those residing in the county. How many residents of Monett commute through or play in the county? What if you take your kids fishing at Roaring River? What if you are camping at one of the many campgrounds on the lake next summer?
This service is necessary for ALL residents of the county. This increase would cost the average person one additional dollar a month. Times are tough, but if the county loses emergency communications, what are you going to do when you need help? When your grandmother is having a heart attack? When someone is trying to break into your house in the middle of the night? Who are you going to call?
Fortunately it's not too late. A "yes" vote will mean that services that most people take for granted will continue and improve. A "no" vote will mean a loss of central communications for the county and the closure of Barry County E-911. All Barry County residents, including those residing inside Monett, will suffer the consequences. Response times will be longer. People will be hurt or maybe even die as a result. Your home owners insurance rates may rise. Who will answer the 10,000 phone calls a month the center handles, of which about 1,000 come from emergency lines? Maybe the sheriff's department? Probably not, they recently had to lay off four deputies after their request for additional funds was defeated.
I hope saving that $1 a month is worth the time you may have to wait on hold after dialing 911, or to have an untrained and inexperienced operator answer. For those of you who live in Monett, some of your 911 calls made by cell phone are answered first at Barry County E-911 and then transferred to the Monett Police Department. I hope the savings are worth it when there is nobody to send law enforcement to you. I hope the savings are justified when there is no one to talk you through CPR when a loved one is dying or to notify and give the fire department directions when your house is on fire. I have a feeling that when you find yourself in need of these services in the near future, and they are not there, you'd be willing to spend a lot more than that $1 a month you saved.
Edward R. Laning
Barry County E-911