SR says courthouse anthrax threat response shows joint training works
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Posted: Monday, May 4, 2009 11:50 pm
ST. ROBERT, Mo. (May 4, 2009) — Only a few months ago, St. Robert emergency personnel trained along with a special National Guard response team in a mock exercise simulating a domestic terrorist attack on the St. Robert city hall. Fire Chief Chuck Fraley told aldermen at Monday night’s city council meeting that their prior training was invaluable when what he called a “very viable threat” led to a full-scale hazardous materials response to the Pulaski County Jail on Saturday evening as Frogfest was ending.
Fraley told the aldermen that his firefighters and hazmat response team were called out to assist Waynesville police and other emergency responders with a hazardous materials scare at the Pulaski County Jail. A suspicious powder in the courthouse eventually turned out to be harmless, but local police, paramedics, firefighters, and military emergency response teams followed their training for an incident that could have been real.
Responding to questions from Alderman Ralph Cook, Fraley said St. Robert did use the hazardous materials response apparatus that it received as part of a grant.
“It was a very viable threat, so Fort Leonard Wood, Waynesville and St. Robert firefighters were out there. Fort Leonard Wood’s hazmat team got suited up and went in, and before they could go in, we were their backup team with Level A suits and we set up a decon team,” Fraley said. “It’s outstanding to see a plan that we’ve done and worked on for months where agencies and other departments come together at a scene go so well.
Fort Leonard Wood personnel were able to identify the powdery substance before it became necessary to do major decontamination efforts for civilians and jail personnel.
“It came out that it was not a bad threat for us, but initially we did start to decon the people until we got the analysis of what it was. We did set up a full line and started to decon them until we found out exactly what it was,” Fraley said.
Fraley said he and City Administrator Alan Clark also attended a Saturday meeting of governmental and emergency personnel to plan a potential response if a swine flu outbreak hit Pulaski County. Both said they believed the training would be helpful in planning a response not only to swine flu but also other disease threats.
In other business:
• Police Chief Curtis Curenton said the sobriety checkpoint conducted late Saturday night and early Sunday morning showed 2 percent of drivers were intoxicated. That’s still too many, Curenton said, but it’s better than might have been feared on a weekend that most Pulaski County school districts were holding their prom dances.
“Fortunately we just had four minors in possession; it could have been a lot worse,” Curenton said. “Zero is what we are shooting for, but four, with all those younger teenagers out, is not that bad.”
• City Attorney Kevin Hillman said the owners of Aussie Jack’s want to serve liquor on their patio and the state liquor control commission requires a letter of endorsement from the city. Aldermen agreed unanimously that they didn’t have a problem with Hillman sending the requested letter since no additional permission would be required under city rules for that type of liquor sales.
• Clark said he anticipates using a grant to hire seven young people for the summer to assist with parks maintenance, one person to assist the city’s computer services, one person to help with legal clerking, and one person to assist the city clerk.
“They will actually do something and learn something,” Clark said. “The program pays 100 percent of the wages and workers’ comp, so it doesn’t cost us anything. Hopefully this thing will keep going year in and year out.”
Alderman Theresa Cook said a total of 100 youth employment slots have been allocated to Waynesville, St. Robert and Fort Leonard Wood.
“So if we need more and there is an availability, we can go get more, too,: Cook said.
• Clark said he anticipates buying a new “skid steer” for the city’s trash transfer station from the Lebanon John Deere dealership that comes in about than $6,700 under budget.
Responding to questions from Cook, Clark said those who want to deposit household electronic waste such as computers and VCRs at the trash transfer station can call 336-5155 to schedule an appointment to deposit their items. Depositing televisions costs $20, depositing computer monitors costs $10, and other electronic waste is free to drop off.
Clark said electronic waste should be dropped off on Thursdays and other household hazardous waste can be dropped off on Tuesdays.
• The St. Robert municipal courtroom is finished and staff members are moving into their new offices this week, Clark said.
• City Clerk Debra Adkins read a letter of thanks from Linda Bright of the Armed Services YMCA thanking the city for its support of her organization.
• Mayor George Sanders recognized numerous city employees from the fire department and public works department for their work cleaning up the property of the old Fields Motel outside Fort Leonard Wood’s main gate prior to the demolition ceremony to break ground on a new hotel and conference center.
• The Mid-Missouri Mustangs organization submitted a letter of thanks to the city for allowing the organization to host a basketball tournament.
• Committee chairmen agreed that the Public Works Committee will meet at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 11, followed by the Taxi Committee meeting at 6 p.m. The Emergency Services Committee will meet at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, May 14. The newly formed Parks Committee will after two public forms on May 15 for senior citizens at 2 p.m. and teens and young adults at 6 p.m., Clark said, with a tentative plan to meet at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19.