Welcome aboard very early on a foggy Saturday morning in the Ozarks. It is barely after 8:00 a.m. and we have the sheriff on the air backing up the lone road car of the day, manned by Lt. Claar. Capt. Anderson has also been into the office this morning and has already left for the Missouri Sheriff’s Academy. Major Cristoffer was in by 7:30 a.m. with a car he is working on so the chiefs of the department are out in force today. I would ask where the Indians are today but I already know they are off until 4 p.m. tonight.
It is now 10 a.m. and I am back in the office having been interrupted by one domestic fight and one tractor trailer blocking the road incident. So I shall start work on the column once again. In many respects, we had a good week last week. The high point of the week was the news that we were awarded a federal grant for the two dispatch positions and the one evidence room employee. We are doing fairly well on grants. We have submitted a total of five big grants so far and we are working on number six. Out of the five we have been turned down once, we have won twice so far and two more are pending. So at this point we are batting two for three and that is not a bad batting average.
The new grant that we won gives us a total of $170,502 over a three-year period to employ two full time dispatchers and one evidence technician. This will go a long way toward moving the dispatch unit into a position where they can stand on their own two feet, so to speak, and yet we will be able to slowly begin rolling back some of the high overtime hours that we have on the books.
The new evidence room position will allow us to begin the cleanup of the evidence room. When I took office in 2005, I was dismayed to find that nobody had ever attempted to clean out the evidence room. We have found evidence dating back to 1972 still in the room. So our first order of business was to begin the separation of things we needed to keep from those we can remove. This can be a slow process because each case or each item of evidence needs to be researched before we do anything. The process was made even slower because the prior evidence room officer was also our “crimes against children” detective and he spent most of his time on those cases.
The addition of a full-time officer to focus entirely on the evidence room will have a positive effect on the room over a period of time. It will also free up a slot for the road so we will benefit there. The addition of the two new dispatch positions will allow me to send the part-time employee back to the jail and bolster their work force.
I would like to thank Kelly Sink-Blair from the Meramec Regional Planning Commission for her efforts on this dispatch grant. While I can provide the reasons and justifications as to why we should be given the grant, Kelly takes my reasons and puts them into the federal grant language that is needed to win the grants. I have said several times now that despite my college degree and the fact I have written two successful books, so far every time I read or try to write anything related to the federal grants, I come away thinking I might have graduated from the third grade. I just do not dig the federal grant language. The good news is that Kelly does speak and write federal grant language and her efforts on our behalf are priceless.
I would also like to thank County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer. All three of the federal grants we have applied for that would allow us to hire people had a tough budget section of the grant application that required salary figures, fringe benefits, and so forth over the three-year life of the grant. Diana did all those financial sections of the grant for me. By and large, we assembled a fairly effective team to work on the federal grants and it appears that we did just fine. Even if we do not get another grant, we have already won $170,000 for salary and $58,000 for equipment. In my book that is a pretty successful return so far on our investment of time and money. I know the payback so far sure does make me feel better about the countless hours I worked on the grants this past spring.
I had a question from the audience as to the progress on my “new” car. Tom is still working on the car and had been waiting for an emergency light bar for the front of the car. The light came in on Friday (Aug. 28) so I am sure he will try to install the light today. So with a little luck I will be in the “new” car by Tuesday.
At this time, we still have one road deputy and one jail officer out due to illness or injury. We hope to get them back soon. The jail roster for Saturday had 60 names listed. Our case number/calls for service count stands at 6,119. I believe we only have one car out of service and in the shop today. I just found out this morning that Pulaski County recently got back another $38,000 for inmate board from the state of Missouri. That money will go into the general revenue fund of the county.
I believe that I have made my way through another column. I hope the information presented was worthy of your attention. Please drive with care and please keep your actions legal. We do not need your body in our jail because we do not want to overwork our light system.