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EMOTIONAL MEETING AS COVINGTON SETS TO END 911 DISPATCH SERVICESMayor Scheper and the city commissioners vote unanimously to end the 911 dispatch center in Covington. Click the link for highlights from Tuesday night's meeting.
|Dispatch center supervisor Jim Gardner|
MORE FROM THE DISPATCH DEBATE...
Mayor Chuck Scheper:
It's a challenge when providing public safety. We're spending $2 million more than other cities our size. We need to consider things from a regional perspective. We just can't continue to do more of the same. We can't look in the rearview mirror because the solutions of the past to solve the problems of tomorrow. ... We are mindful of the contributions of our sixteen dispatchers, I am confident that many if not all can be employed at the county.Fire Chief Chuck Norris:
The more we can bring folks into one system, the better. Recruiting and retaining quality staff is key to what we're trying to do.Police Chief Lee Russo:
People don't care what jurisdiction the response is coming from. They want an officer or a paramedic. ... As criminals and crime move across boundaries so should our record systems.Dispatch supervisor Jim Gardner:
Now I'm not going to stand here and say our dispatchers are the best around. There is no way of proving that and quite frankly, it's insulting to other agencies. I can stand here and say that every one of these people went through an extremely difficult process to keep this job. I know because I was the one who put them through it and they all rose to the task. They are the cream of the crop. I am extremely proud of all of them and what we have created here.Dispatcher Angela Wallace:
(On Commissioner Steve Frank's Facebook postings)Your words are not helpful. Our family, our friends all relate to those posts that you put out there.Retired police officer (and current commission candidate) Neil Gilreath:
(To City Manager Klein) While city manager in Fort Wright you moved their dispatch to Erlanger, so why move Covington's to Kenton County? ... As a recruit in 1992 my salary was $18,500. I realized I could double my salary by working overtime in the dispatch center. ... The city's philosophy was, we'd rather pay the overtime than staff the city properly and apparently that has caught up to us.Local realtor/architect Fritz Kuhlman:
One element of courage is to jeep your emotions in check while making decisions. When we combine things we are stronger.Licking Riverside resident Gina Estes:
It's impossible to discount the amount of money that would be saved. That's a safety issue, too. Money we spend elsewhere can't go to infrastructure or safer roads.Tim Donoghue, President of NKY Labor Council:
I hope you think long and hard about this. You give up this work now, it may cost you more in the long run.Firefighter Jim Adams expressed concern about the suggestion that a couple minutes could be taken off the response times by moving dispatch to Kenton County. Adams pointed out that the browned out pumper in the Covington Fire Department has already increased response times by similar amounts of time.
Commissioner Sherry Carran:
Everything seems to be in line here. It's right for me because I have trust in Kenton County. They have our safety at heart. This is not a decision we are taking lightly just because we're in a bad financial situation. ... I would not vote for this if I did not believe the county would be willing to hire you. In my heart I believe this is in the best interest if the city right now. You may not understand right now but hopefully as time goes on we'll be proven right about this.Commissioner Steve Casper:
It can be further cuts to staffing of police, fire, (public improvements) or we can look at collaboration which continues to provide the service and allows us to save money.Commissioner Steve Frank:
For twenty plus years we have been fumbling our budgets and we are now paying for it. ... I know you love your job but you probably won't do it for no money. ... You'll probably end up getting paid close to what you're making now. ... This is ($1.2 million) that we're saving to prepare us for some even more unfriendly things that will have to happen. ... I hope you unionize the county.Commissioner Shawn Masters:
This is the toughest decision I've ever made. As of a week or so ago I was not on board with this. But we don't have other municipalities on board (to merge into Covington). We're in a terrible mess right now. What I have to worry about is job preservation. I am confident that each of you will be employed by the county.--------------------------------------------------------------
MORE NOTES FROM TUESDAY'S COMMISSION MEETING:
Covington was awarded the prestigious and highly competitive ACHIEVE grant and now the city plans to begin its implementation. From the official website of the grant:
ACHIEVE (Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and EnVironmental changE) is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s Healthy Communities Program. ACHIEVE seeks to empower local communities to promote policies, systems, and environmental change strategies—focusing on issues such as physical fitness and obesity, nutrition, and tobacco cessation—to advance the nation’s efforts to prevent chronic diseases and related risk factors.Recreation director Natalie Gardner presented the city's plans to use the funds, the goals of which are to increase access to fresh produce, increase green space, and reduce contact with second hand smoke. "It's a pretty prestigious award," Gardner said. "The ultimate goal is to make an impact on the nation's health one community at a time."
One interesting fact provided was that 37.9% of people in Covington smoke cigarettes. The city is working with the Housing Authority to create more smoke-free housing options for low-income families. Additionally, the Farmers Market and workplace wellness programs will increase awareness of healthier food options, while school programming will work toward boosting physical activity. Mayor Scheper, who recognized Monday as the twentieth anniversary of his being diagnosed with cancer, supports the idea. "Anything we can do to enhance wellness and quality of living is definitely something we're going to be doing," he said.
GREAT AMERICAN CLEANUP
This year's Great American Cleanup is scheduled for April 21 from 9:00AM - 12:00PM and there will be multiple opportunities to be involved around Covington that day. Danielle Eulitt, of Keep Covington Beautiful, explained the plans for the city which will have a focus on the Clay Wade Bailey and Roebling Suspension bridges, the police memorial, and tree planting around Goebel Park with the help of the city's arborist. Local neighborhoods will also select their own individual projects.
- Longtime Covington police officer William Dometrich, who rose to the rank of Assistant Chief, was remembered with a ceremonial resolution following his recent passing at the age of 77. Dometrich was also a well-known karate expert who opened his own zen/Buddhist space on Martin Street.
- The city claimed the title to 639 West 9th Street, a property that will eventually be torn down when the new Brent Spence Bridge is built. The property was awarded as part of a lawsuit settlement over the placement of electronic billboards (the property sits near Interstate 71/75).
- Officer James Black resigned from the police department while Kim Newman, Jeff Cook, Adam Uhl, Jason McErlance, and Josh Bornhorn were approved for raises in the department.