Commissioners briefed on security grant, 911 woes

EVANSTON — The Uinta County commissioners discussed courthouse security and the county’s Code Red emergency notification system contract at their regular session on Tuesday, Sept. 4. 

Uinta County Emergency Management Director Kim West presented at both sessions, advising the commissioners on a grant application to the Wyoming Supreme Court for funding to be used for courthouse security. The commissioners voted to approve the application for $35,407 in grant funding from the state, with a required county match of $3,541. 

West said a couple of years ago there was a security assessment done at courthouses throughout the state and following that assessment, the legislature allocated approximately $400,000 to be used for courthouse security. 

In Uinta County that assessment produced a needs report that includes items such as additional cameras in and around courtrooms, duress buttons, entryway bollards to prevent cars being driven into courthouse doors and secure transaction windows in the circuit and district courts. West said the county had solicited estimates for those items and costs come to about $45,000, while only about $35,000 is available through the grant. He told the commissioners the hope is that once they have actually received the funds and solicit official bids, they will be able to reduce some costs through talks with contractors and complete some projects in-house to get costs down. 

West also spoke with the commissioners about the contract with Code Red, the provider of the county’s emergency notification system. West said the county has been contracting with Code Red for about a decade and pays $10,000 annually for 30,000 minutes of phone time with unlimited email messages, with any minutes over the 30,000 billed at 33 cents per minute. He said the 30,000 minutes have always been sufficient until this year, when a few emergency notifications, such as the Fourth of July fire, pushed the county over that limit. 

West said additional minutes were again used on the evening of Friday, Aug. 31, when the 911 and dispatch phone system went down for an extended period of time. An alert went out to notify the community of an alternate phone number to use for emergencies, which added to the minute usage. 

He said Code Red representatives had offered the county a new contract that will give the county unlimited minutes for an additional $990, retroactive to Jan. 23, 2018. He recommended the commissioners approve that contract and pay the $990 as opposed to paying the several thousand dollars in overage fees with the current contract, which the commissioners did. 

Sheriff Doug Matthews addressed the phone outage and said nobody had been able to determine the cause and the phones had come back up on their own after a couple of hours. He said county staff were still trying to determine exactly what had happened.

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