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 KPD Getting New Communication System

October 22, 2008 - The Knightstown Town Council approved two major purchases totaling almost $80,000 at last Thursday’s regular monthly meeting.

The first expenditure approved by the council was $43,097.56 for new dispatch communication equipment for use by the Knightstown Police Department and local fire and emergency medical personnel. Of the total amount, only $8,000 is expected to come from the town, with that being paid by the town’s utilities.

Nearly 35 percent of the total cost of the new communication system is being funded by a $15,000 grant the town received from the Henry County Community Foundation in late September. Other sources of funding include: town of Shirley ($5,000); Make a Difference Knightstown, Inc. ($3,500); Knightstown-Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department ($5,798); and Southwest Ambulance Service ($5,798).

Council member Steve Nelson questioned whether a repeater, a device that receives radio signals, then amplifies and sends them out, is needed. He said the town could wait and see if the other new equipment remedies communication problems before buying the repeater, which alone costs about $6,000.

Citing the enhanced communication it would allow, especially between officers’ handheld radios, KPD officer Derek Hall said he thought having a repeater is “an officer safety issue.” Council member Bob Weber said he agreed with Hall, and Council President Valerie Trump and council member Terry Guerin both said they deferred to the consultant’s recommendation that a repeater should be included as part of the new system.

The council appointed Knightstown Chief of Police Danny Baker, who was instrumental in obtaining the $15,000 grant from the HCCF, to be the point person for a committee that will coordinate installation of the new system. This committee will also include Fire Chief Bob Schaeffer and Bill Windsor of Southwest Ambulance.

The second major purchase approved by the council was a new dump truck requested by Works Manager Mel Matlock. The truck, a 2008 Ford F-450, will be bought from Kenny Vice Ford in Lagoda for $36,100.

Sue Hood, president of the Knightstown Chamber of Commerce, gave a brief presentation at last week’s meeting on a Main Street improvement project sponsored by the state’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs. She said the program focuses on design, organization, promotion and economic restructuring to preserve and develop traditional downtown resources.

In addition to the KCOC, Hood said two other local groups, Make a Difference Knightstown, Inc., and Historic Knightstown, Inc., will also be involved, and the that the Knightstown Plan Commission recently voted to support it. While the council took no formal vote at last week’s meeting, members’ consensus was that the town council should also be involved.

Hood also advised the council that the KCOC has new Christmas Banners to hang above Main Street in storage and that new wreaths for light poles had been picked out. The council’s consensus was to permit the KCOC to hang the decorations.

In other business, the council voted to approve new health insurance coverage for town employees, effective Nov. 1, through local agent Mike Flowers of Leakey Insurance. Clerk-Treasurer Judy Haines told The Banner the new policy, which has a $1,500 deductible and includes $25,000 in life insurance, is expected to save the town about $800 a month on its annual employee health insurance costs of about $222,000.

The town’s proposed 2009 budget was approved by the council at last week’s meeting. The total budget, which must be approved by the state before taking effect, is $994,543, with 75.6 percent of that coming from property taxes that will fund the town’s $751,509 General Fund.

The council also voted last week to renew the town’s yearly animal control contract with the Henry County Humane Society Animal Shelter. The town’s cost under the contract for 2009 will remain at its current level, $4,813.

During his departmental report, Baker disclosed that $3,820 had been raised by a golf fundraiser held Sept. 27 for the KPD. He said 21 teams participated in the second annual event, which was held at Horseshoe Bend Golf Course in Lewisville.

In response to a question from Guerin, Baker told the council that KPD patrol car had recently been involved with a minor collision with a Henry County Sheriff’s Department vehicle in the KPD parking lot. Baker said there was about $600 in damages to the bumper of the KPD car and about $2,000 in damage to the HCSD car.

The council has scheduled a private executive session for Wednesday, Oct. 29, to address an employee’s grievance. While the council did not identify the employee involved or reveal any details about the nature of the grievance, Guerin did tell The Banner immediately after last week’s meeting that the grievance was filed by a KPD employee.

Near the end of last week’s meeting, town attorney Gregg Morelock advised the council that a representative from the town’s insurer had proposed meeting in executive session with the council to discuss payment of $55,212.46 in attorney fees and court costs. The town and its insurer have been held jointly and severally liable for the amount, which is owed to The Banner as the result of the newspaper winning a public access lawsuit against the town and its insurer in 2006. “We’re the client,” Guerin said. “(The insurer’s representative) should come here.”

Morelock said he would pass Guerin’s sentiments along. He said the council, at some point, needs to reach a consensus about how to deal with this issue, but he advised them not to discuss the matter further or reach a consensus during that night’s public meeting.


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