New computer aids dispatch system, will be “upper echelon of capability of technology”

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 5/4/22

MARIES COUNTY — Maries County’s go-live date for its new computer aided dispatch (CAD) system in the 911 Dispatch Center is August 31. 

Last week IT Manager Shane Sweno came to …

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New computer aids dispatch system, will be “upper echelon of capability of technology”

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MARIES COUNTY — Maries County’s go-live date for its new computer aided dispatch (CAD) system in the 911 Dispatch Center is August 31. 

Last week IT Manager Shane Sweno came to the county commission asking for another expenditure to assist in this process and with adding Maries County’s mapping with Phelps County. Sweno explained that Phelps County already has its own GIS for the CAD system and they want to add Maries County’s maps with theirs. To do this, a template needs to be created by a vendor that does spacial data research (SDR). The cost is $1,800 plus a $750 fee to create the template. 

Sweno said he thinks Maries County has mapped the majority of the houses in Maries County, saying they have a good data base. But, Maries County’s mapping needs to be changed slightly in order to integrate with Phelps County. This is for 911 as Maries County is going on Phelps County’s server. 

Sweno said it is a safety issue as it shortens the process to locate where first responders need to respond quickly. First responders include local law enforcement, fire departments and ambulance crews. Within the mapping are jurisdictional boundaries so the proper fire department, for example, is dispatched out in an emergency. 

Presiding Commissioner Victor Stratman said the county already has spent $200,000 on this project, adding they don’t really have a choice not to pay for this. 

Sweno said it is a profound improvement. When they go live on Aug. 31, the new computer aided dispatch (CAD) computers will show the physical location of the call. “We will have the exact location so we will know who to send,” Sweno said. The 911 is tied into CAD and dispatch. It works with Osage County, too. 

An update can be purchases for $500 every six months, but that is up to the county to determine. Sweno said Maries County doesn’t get a lot of data to change. 

“The whole project gets us to the upper echelon of capability with current technology,” Sweno said.

Remonumentation Program

At a previous county commission meeting, the commissioners agreed to participate in a program by the Missouri Department of Agriculture that offers $300 grants to pay a professional surveyor to remonumentation corners that need to be restored. It means all land surveying activities performed by a surveyor to perpetuate a previously monumented original public land survey corner, protracted public land survey corner, or property controlling corner. 

Show-Me Land Surveying, LLC of Vienna, Tyler “TC’ James,  recently submitted an invoice for payment for remonumentation of five corners. He provided photographs of one of the corner he identified and restored. 

The corners included West Quarter Corner of Section 7-T39N-R7W, East Quarter Corner of Section 12-T39N-R8W, Closing Corner of Sections 7 and 18, T39N-R7W, Quarter Corner of Sections 12 and 13, T39N-R8W, and Standard Corner of Sections 12 and 13, T39N-R8W. 

Stratman said James had to investigate and find these corners and he remonumented them, putting a two foot iron rod in the ground and an aluminum cap on top with the identifying information, plus a witness post. 

The county will pay the surveyor and will be reimbursed completely by the agriculture department’s land survey program. 

All about floodplains

MRPC Assistant Director Tammy Snodgrass was at a county commission meeting with a lot of information which she said was “all about floodplains.” MRPC is Maries County’s floodplain manager. Snodgrass came to the commissioners because new maps are coming from FEMA, which will require changes to the county’s floodplain ordinance to capture the new information. She said they are being proactive to try to get to work before the new maps come and cause a lot of confusion. She brought brochures about what every property owner needs to know about the National Flood Insurance Program. She also is working on a booklet for county employees to make available to the public about what to look for, how to get permits and other information before they make developments in the floodplain. 

Eastern District Commissioner Doug Drewel asked what will happen with the people who do make developments in the floodplain. Snodgrass said if they build a non-complaint structure in the floodplain, they can be fined, but most counties don’t fine anyone. They try to work with people and tell them what to do to become compliant. 

Western District Commissioner Ed Fagre said banks can catch it, too and Snodgrass agreed. However, she said with the new maps coming out, FEMA will expect a lot more. Currently, Maries County is using 40-year-old maps and the new ones will be much better. There will be established base flood elevations (BFE). 

She said she was there that day to talk to them about floodplain management. The county will need to update its floodplain ordinance to include new rules, which Snodgrass said make it safer but are more restrictive. After a flood damages structures in the floodplain, they are to be rebuilt in the right way in order to get flood insurance. People can still build structures in the floodplain, they just have to follow the guidelines in the ordinance. 

She explained the base flood elevation (BFE) is set for a one percent annual chance flood event, which is a 100-year flood, for one foot above it. Now they are encouraging it to be set at two feel above the BFE. People who did the one foot above can be grandfathered into the new BFE.

Stratman asked about the area used to get in and out. Drewel said that would involve too many places, including county roads as the creeks come up and cover roads at times, but go down in a few hours. Snodgrass said the recommendations added stuff to the ordinance, but it is up to the commissioners. She said it helps the floodplain administrators to have clear guidelines. Flooding has become more common and the floods are wilder and bigger, she said.

The first recommendation is for agricultural structures. This includes structures used solely for production, harvesting, storage, drying, or raising of ag commodities, including livestock. It is not a structure where anyone lives. These need to be anchored because they don’t want it floating off and damaging something. Also all electrical has to be above the BFE. The structure should have doors to be opened to let water flow out,  and no buildings are allowed in the river channel. The expectation is persons with these structures will get out their equipment before the flood. There is no disaster assistance if a person loses their barn that sits in the flood plain.

There are new standard for accessory structures, too. These are structures used solely for parking and limited storage purposes, not attached to any other structure on the site, of limited investment value and not larger that 400 square feet and not inhabited at any time. If these structures are built below the BFE they must be build with flood-resistant materials, be adequately anchored to prevent flotation, collapse or lateral movement of the structure. Also, any mechanical, electrical or other utility equipment must be located above the BFE or flood proofed. 

Snodgrass said a building that has been in the flood plain for a long time can be grandfathered in as long as it’s not 50 percent damaged. But, if it is not used for 18 months, or whatever period of time the commissioners decide, to begin use again it needs to be brought into compliance. Fagre said it will be up to the sellers of the structure to inform the buyers, and Stratman agreed it would be the right thing to do. Drewel said someone could lose a lot of money if something happened and they had to close and pay to bring the structure into compliance when they opened again. Drewel said they need to get the input from local banks on this. There probably are quite a few hay barns in the flood plain, he said.

The next standard to be included in the ordinance is critical facilities. This includes governmental buildings, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, water and sewer pumping stations, water and sewer treatment families, transportation maintenance facilities, places of public assemblies, airports, and schools. It is recommended they be elevated above the 500-year flood level or flood-proofed if below the 500-year flood level. Existing structures are grandfathered in until they have a bunch of damage, then should be rebuilt with compliance. Or to move them as it causes problems in the communities if they can’t get the fire department out because the fire house in the floodplain is under water. 

Hazardous waste is a standard as all hazardous material storage and handling sites shall be located out of the special flood hazard area. 

Drewel asked if other counties have adopted these new standards in their ordinance. Snodgrass said some already have or she will work with them to get them. MRPC is trying to be proactive in anticipation of the new maps. 

Snodgrass spoke about cumulative improvement, which is a structure that was improved or remodeled or enlarged without conforming to current requirements for elevation, which cost more than 50 percent of the structure’s current market value. It will need to be flood proofed. She said this is hard to be aware of and to enforce, but it’s a good thing to have in the ordinance. Snodgrass said people with flood insurance on a non-elevated structure may be eligible for a grant to elevate the structure, but without flood insurance they will not be eligible for the grant. 

Historic structures are part of the new standards. Snodgrass said they are granted some “wiggle room” and must be on the list of national historic structures. 

Temporary structures are part of the ordinance standards. Snodgrass said it pertains to RV’s, construction trailers and such that have wheels and can be moved out of the floodplain. It can’t be a residence and they can be placed only for a six-month period. 

Snodgrass said the new floodplain ordinance will keep the county in the National Flood Insurance Program and FEMA. Enforcing it will be long term and will take time. She said they will need to get the education out there, but unfortunately it usually takes a flood. When they go out to access damage, that brings more understanding about what is allowed in the floodplain.

Stratman suggested working with the assessor to send out information with the assessment sheets, asking residents to look into whether or not they are on a floodplain before they start building something. As he read over the suggested standards, he said it all made a lot of sense. 

“They are all good and should be adopted,” Snodgrass said. “They are hard to enforce, but all are compliant.”

Stratman asked about the floodplain maps being part of the county’s new GIS mapping system. Snodgrass said the new floodplain maps can be a layer incorporated into the county’s GIS. 

She said one of her concerns in this ordinance process and the new, better maps, is there will be places that currently are not in the floodplain, but with the new maps they will be. She wanted to make the commissioners aware of some of the challenges with this. There are some companies that do floodplain determination, but MRPC does not do this. For the county, she said this ordinance has to be in place in order for people to get flood insurance. She said the county is expected to make a good faith effort to enforce the floodplain ordinance. MRPC will work with the county. It already affects a lot of people and with the new maps it will impact even more people. 

Snodgrass said the old maps are from the 1980s and are topography based. The new maps are light detection and ranging (LIDAR) based, which is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the earth. There are many positive things about the new maps, but it is change. She asked the commissioners to take time to think about it, adding it will be good to be ahead when the new maps come out. No permits will be needed to build in Maries County unless they are building in the floodplain. Snodgrass will be back June 2 to help the commissioner swork on the floodplain ordinance. 

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