Thursday, February 3, 2005

City looks at growth, upgrades

Staff Writer

Two City of Holly Springs departments continue to push ahead for growth and readiness.

The Information Technology Center, under the direction of Ken Robinson, has been striving to get agreements with educational organizations and businesses that will make the center operational for its intended mission, to create career opportunities in Holly Springs and the surrounding area.

Chief Ken Holbrook continues to make training and upgrading of equipment a priority for the Holly Springs Fire Department. The department serves the entire county and is the only fire department that pays firefighters. Twelve smaller community fire stations operate with volunteer firefighters.

Holbrook keeps abreast of the new demands for fire fighting and first response and rescue via aggressive grant writing. As equipment ages it has to be replaced and new and better equipment acquired to keep capacity up.

Holbrook expects to add a new pumper truck at a cost of over a quarter of a million. The city has to have three functional pumpers in order to keep the fire ratings where they need to be for insurance purposes. As the new pumper is built over the next 10 months, an old 1980 model pumper will be retired - likely sold to a smaller fire department.

An elevated master stream will be installed on the snorkel truck to increase the longevity of the truck.

Holbrook said his next dilemma, with the addition of the new pumper, will be expansion of the fire station downtown to house the equipment.

He said expanding the station would be economical from the standpoint of utility costs and management. A feasibility study will be undertaken by the city.

The Holly Springs Board of Aldermen approved travel for Holbrook to attend a Hazardous Materials training class at the fire academy.

Robinson provided an update for the board on projects at the IT Center.

He will submit a cost list for retrofitting the center as a certification testing center for Mississippi State University graduates.

Robinson continues to seek agreements with potential cooperate partners in an attempt to attract technology industries to the city.

An agreement with Lan One Corporation for training and certification is waiting to be consummated. The corporation wants to expand to Mississippi and Arkansas, he said. Robinson said with a representative of Lan One on site, Rust College interns could benefit from working with the corporation and perhaps find employment with the company.

Robinson, with the help of former police chief Robert Burby, held seminars last year with area law enforcement agencies to plan for the selection of software packages to help police and sheriff departments share information in a timely manner. The PTS software packages are available to law enforcement, justice courts, fire departments and emergency service agencies.

“We have purchased a new server and loaded the software,” he said. “About 40 percent is converted to work stations (for law enforcement). Once we get the total department everyone will operate under that. We will try to entice other county agencies to convert to that system for record keeping and to track criminal activity.”

He wants Marshall, DeSoto, Benton and Union counties as well as the Holly Springs Police Department to use the network.

The county is the lead agency for homeland security and will operate on a separate platform.

Robinson said once the law enforcement module is networked, similar modules for justice court, fire departments and emergency services, incident command, and 911 dispatch could be added.

The board of aldermen interviewed prospective employees for the police and water departments at the January 19 meeting.

HSUD director Tom Boone presented two applicants for a second crew at the water and sewer department.

Mayor Andre’ DeBerry recommended a second crew be put in place due to construction taking place on the south side of town.

Boone also briefed the board on a new credit card payment system that HSUD wants. A company has offered to set up the payment system whereby consumers can pay bills by telephone for a service charge of $1.25 per use.

Don Hollingsworth with public works provided a quote for well repair from Lane Central.

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