Harvey County Communications finally has all that it needs to move forward with a project that started more than a year ago.

Communications Director Don Gruver has been planning to replace the communications truck (a converted ambulance) — now used more for transporting equipment — with a new, mobile command center since the 2016 budget. After previous plans to purchases and update a used rescue truck fell through, the money designated for that purchase ($30,000) was rolled over into the 2017 budget.

Earlier this year, the Harvey County Emergency Response Team purchased a bus for similar purposes, which was found to be slower than preferred for responding to SWAT calls. The Communications Department then purchased it from the ERT to expedite the process of converting it into a command center.

On Monday, Gruver presented two bids for that conversion work to the county commission, recommending they award the contract to South Central Fire Maintenance LLC of Wichita for a total of $37,500 (the lower of the two bids received by nearly half). With the $30,000 carryover and an estimated $15,000 in savings projected in department's 2017 budget, Gruver said Communications would have enough to finance the final step in setting up the mobile command center.

"It'll give us a platform for command to work out of out of the elements," Gruver said. "It's kind of taking two current tools, combining them into a smaller and more updated platform."

The bulk of the conversion work, Gruver noted, would center on installing new interior and exterior lighting, as well cabinetry, countertops and seating for the vehicle. Gruver said all the electronics from the old vehicle will be shifted over to the new command bus and he will help installing the radios.

As for the shape of the vehicle, Gruver told commissioners it should last a "good and long" time — as the engine is in good shape and the mileage is at a point where the vehicle should not reach a critical workload anytime soon.

Commissioners did question if the generator could run the whole command system in the bus, and while Gruver noted it will operate most of the equipment, it was noted the A/C unit is tied to the engine. As such, commissioners suggested installing an external A/C and upgrading the generator to handle that extra workload.

Joe Taylor of South Central Fire Maintenance LLC noted installing an exterior A/C unit and running the necessary wiring would not be an issue, while Gruver admitted replacing the current generator is an upcoming need.

Given the importance of a command center in emergency situations, as has been shown in recent events, the commission approved the upgrades for a cost of $37,500 — with the addition of a roof unit to the project (for administration to review).

"We're not going to use it much," said commissioner Randy Hague," but when we need it, we need it."

In other business, the county commission:

Received a recommendation from Road and Bridge Superintendent Jim Meier to accept the bid from Murphy Tractor for a rotary boom mower, noting that after reviewing the finances it was determined there was enough in the budget to support the project. Additionally, after discussion with Murphy, Meier noted they lowered their total bid to $26,480, which the commission accepted.
Accepted the Emergency Solutions Grant and authorized the chair to sign an agreement designating that $64,703 in funds for the Harvey County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Task Force to spend as outlined. It was noted that an additional $250,000 in federal funding was not received, meaning there will be a roll back in plans for a facility remodel request.
Gave consensus to move forward with publication of a public notice discouraging farmers from planting and harvesting crops within the right-of-way of county roads (an illegal practice, as defined by state law).
Learned from Health Department Director Lynnette Redington that flu vaccines are coming in and the department is getting ready to distribute shots.
Was alerted to some activity in the county parks, including showings of the house for rent at West Park scheduled for this week as well as a 3-D shoot that will be hosted at East Park this weekend. The shoot will follow much the same procedure as last year and the staff presented a recommended special events insurance policy, which the commission had no problems with after confirming the differences between the event and the static range project that has been discussed (i.e. staff will be at the shoot all day, safety measures will be in place, etc.). It was also noted the department will have to replace staff at the West Park bait shop, which is set to close after Labor Day weekend.
Heard from County Counselor Greg Nye about a motion to disperse funds from the latest tax foreclosure sale that will be coming before the commission at a meeting in the near future.
Learned from County Clerk Rick Piepho that there is interest from current members of the Little Arkansas River Drainage District to maintain their positions on the board, meaning the county could be set for at least four more years. Piepho also submitted his name for consideration as a nominee for the KCAMP board of trustees, which the commission agreed to accept.
Approved Resolution 2017-15 to proceed with Sedgwick Township's request to change the designation of three separate stretches of road to minimum maintenance roads. Nye noted the resolution was the first step, with the resolution now to go before the planning commission at its next meeting (Sept. 5) with an intent to publish notice by Sept. 9 and have a hearing on the resolution Sept. 25.