Putnam County has been tapped by state officials to host a mobile command center to serve a multi-county region in times of disaster or emergency.
Valued at $450,000, the mobile command center, or MCC, will be purchased and outfitted by the state. All the county has to do, Emergency Management Agency Director Kim Hyten told local officials Monday, is find a place to keep it. And that won't be hard.
Hyten told commissioners Dennis O'Hair, Kristina Warren and Gene Beck that he has contacted local hazardous materials response teams, and he is certain a host agency can be found where the MCC can be placed.
The state has been divided into 10 regions, with each being assigned an MCC, he explained. While Putnam County will host the MCC to serve a region of west central Indiana, the unit will be operated by whichever agency is in command of an emergency. For instance, if a natural disaster occurs in Clay County, the MCC will be taken to the command site established, and a Clay County agency in command of the emergency response will utilize the MCC.
Hyten said the paperwork has not been signed to firm up the project, but it is an honor to be asked to host the MCC.
"This is a large-ticket item," he said.
Meanwhile, the county will also be receiving 10 Dell laptop computers through a subgrant agreement for $11,250 left over from 2004 homeland security funding. The laptops will have information that can be used to response to emergencies, such as the location of schools, hospitals, weight limit of bridges, industrial sites and other information essential to public safety.
Those laptops should be received this fall, and will be distributed to agencies in the county.
Hyten said he has also learned that the county is eligible to receive additional laptops through a $17,902 grant. Those laptops will have global imaging software for mapping projects.
The commissioners voted to approve acceptance of the grants for the laptops.
The commissioners also learned that the county is eligible for $50,000 in state funding for courthouse security.
The project will cover the cost of a camera system for the building exterior as well as large areas inside the courthouse. It will not be limited to the third floor, where the court system is located.
The project will also cover a metal detection system as part of the improved security. There was no word on when that funding will be received.
Meanwhile during Monday evening's meeting, the commissioners:
-- Heard that the public forum on land use planning in the county is set for 7 o'clock tonight in the Community Building at the Putnam County Fairgrounds. The public is encouraged to attend to give input on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the county, along with the needs and dreams of county residents.
-- Tabled a contract from Beam, Longest and Neff to take over the engineering on the Bridge 146 replacement project. The county is now in negotiations to resolve a contract dispute with Wolpert Engineering, which has not completed that project.
On the advice of attorney Scott Hoff, the commissioners agreed not to sign the contract with BLN until the other contract issue is resolved. The commissioners also authorized O'Hair to work out the settlement of the disputed contract.
-- Voted to amend the 911 dispatch agreement with Parke County to allow Verizon customers in the Waveland area to have their calls routed through the Putnam County dispatch center, which will then relay the information to Parke County. The cost for Parke County to handle those calls is not cost-effective. Putnam County will collect the monthly 911 fee assessed to those Waveland area customers.
-- Signed a proclamation declaring the week of Oct. 23-28 as Indiana Extension Homemakers Association Week in the county to recognize the organization's contribution to strengthen families through continuing education, leadership development and volunteer community support.
-- Heard a presentation from Certified IT about online billing for county property taxes. Freedom Pay is an online taxpaying system that allows payments via credit cards. The county can made money from the processing fee that is charged to the taxpayer. The company makes its money from the title companies, banks, mortgage companies and other firms access the system. The data transfers and payments are secure, and the funds are transferred into the county's bank account to draw more interest. The program could be set up in time for the fall tax collection, which has a Nov. 10 deadline.
The commissioners agreed they would like to check with other counties who use the system to see if it works well for them. They tabled a decision until their next meeting.
That meeting is set for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16 in the courthouse annex, 209 W. Liberty St.
The session is open to the public.