It appears a combined dispatch center in Morgan County is a reality

By Gary Scott on December 14, 2015 at 1:55pm

The Morgan County Board of Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding this morning for the new facility, which is to replace the current operations at the Jacksonville Police Department, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office and Passavant Area Hospital.

While the numbers weren’t immediately available this morning, Morgan County Emergency Services Director Phil McCarty says the bulk of the cost will be handled by the Morgan County E-911 board.

In September, it was estimated the total cost for the new center would be about $688,000 next year. It would jump to $805,000 in 2017, and by 2020, up to about $856,000.

Commissioner Bill Meier, who was named the chairman of the board this morning, replacing Brad Zeller, notes the talk about joint dispatch goes all the way back to when he first became a commissioner over a decade ago.

“Of course, the biggest problem was the financing. The board was always concerned about that because we didn’t want to overstep our bounds. But, when 911 came into the picture more this last three or four months, that they’re going to put a substantial amount in and fund this substantial amount in the joint dispatch every year, that made our decision a lot easier,” Meier says.

“So, we’re fully on board with this and look forward to working with the City of Jacksonville and 911 to make sure this comes to fruition, and I think it’ll be great for the community,” he adds.

Reporter: “Will taxpayers see an increase in what they contribute as a result of this?”

Meier: “It’s all taxes, of course, but we’re not going to raise taxes just to support this.”

Officials hope to start work on the new center, located on the bottom floor of the Jacksonville Municipal Building, in early 2016 and have it completed before the end of the year.

On the agenda for tonight’s Jacksonville City Council meeting is an intergovernmental agreement resolution. Jacksonville aldermen unanimously passed a resolution of support for the idea earlier this year.

Passavant Area Hospital has already approved the dispatch agreement, according to McCarty.

Also this morning, the county board appointed Gray Noll as the new Morgan County State’s Attorney, effective January 1st, to replace the resigning Bobby Bonjean. Noll serves as the Assistant State’s Attorney in Sangamon County.

Meier says the county Republican Party did its due diligence in selecting a replacement.

“I really think that if he’s elected,

Noll will face South Jacksonville attorney Tyson Manker in the fall of 2016 to keep his seat.

Also this morning, commissioners approved a road use agreement for the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline and passed a resolution for a committee focusing on possibly a new animal shelter. We’ll have more details on those stories in upcoming newscasts.