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Howard County mulling web-based notification programs

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Members of the Howard County Quorum Court heard from a spokesperson with a company that provides web-based notification programs for weather emergencies and other applications.

The spokesperson was Jill Mason of ECN – Emergency Communication Network, a Florida company which already has a number of customers in Arkansas.

Quorum court members heard her pitch for Code Red, which can notify residents of a specific area of a weather threat, or for more mundane issues such as street closures. The system notifies the citizenry by phone message, e-mail and others. JPs were concerned about who would have input for messages, and the answer was only designated administrators under the control of the county judge, sheriff or local mayors.

Two mayors – Billy Ray Jones of Nashville and Bobby Tullis of Mineral Springs – were on hand to ask questions of Mason. Both of them indicated favorable interest, and County Judge Kevin Smith said that mayors of Tollette and Dierks had also told him they were in favor of the service.

Some of the Code Red information provided also included a note from county emergency coordinator Sonny Raulerson. It indicated that the cities’ annual costs were Dierks, $398.53; Nashville, $1,626.11; Tollette, $83.48; and Mineral Springs, $424.69. The fee for unincorporated areas would be $2,313.64. Howard County’s share of the total costs would be reduced by a grant. The cities and county would split a $500 setup fee.

JP Brent Pinkerton said it would provide an important service to the citizens of the whole county. Judge Smith asked the JPs to mull the proposal, and he would find out if the county’s 9-1-1 program treasury could be used to meet the county’s share.

Other items before the court in its regular meeting for June:

The county has received its Legislative Audit Report, and the judge asked JPs to pass a housekeeping ordinance reflecting a grant to the Cottonshed Water Project.

JPs heard from the hot check coordinator for Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Chesshir, who gave the program’s annual report to the court.

JPs also approved giving some salvaged lead-lined windows and an old piece of equipment from the X-ray facility in the abandoned old Howard Memorial Hospital building. The items will be given to science phenom Taylor Wilson, who needs them for his nuclear research. JP Dick Wakefield said that the items should be given to the Wilson family for all of their generous support of the hospital.

Judge Smith said he had good news for the court – a $170,000-plus grant from the Arkansas Department of Heritage which will be used to replace an aging boiler in the courthouse basement. The county will also get a dehumidifier for the space where records are kept.