Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Internet troubles worry county officials

J-E Editor

Recently the Webster County government chose to switch internet and phone services from AT&T to Time Warner, a move that was promised to be both smooth and much more cost efficient for the county, but some elected officials aren’t happy with the result. In fact, jailer Terry Elder is afraid problems with internet services at the jail will result in some major and possibly costly issues for the county, which is already operating on a tight budget.

“Our internet goes down constantly,” he told the court on Monday morning. “We’ve called them and they’ve tried hard to fix our problem, but I don’t see anything else to do but switch back to AT&T.”

The two main problems Elder says the jail has experienced are losing contact with the Kentuckty Department of Corrections, which communicates information on inmates, and VINELink. VINELink is the official website for Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE), the company that notifies victims when an inmate charged in their crime is released from jail.

“If we don’t do something, someone is going to get released and VINE isn’t going to be notified,” Elder said. “When that happens, a victim isn’t going to get notified.”
Elder also said that an issue with the Time Warner service was responsible for accidently trigger an alarm at the jail.

Other county offices and officials reporting problems include the Road Department, County Clerk, County Attorney, Sheriff and Judge Executive. The only office that said they have not had a problem is 911 Dispatch.

Magistrates agreed that they want David Hagen, the representative of Time-Warner Cable who convinced them to switch from AT&T, at a fiscal court meeting.

In other business, at the request of Road Department foreman Rob Mooney, representatives of SnowEx and KYFab were on hand Monday to tell the court about a new salt brine system their companies have developed.

The Brine Pro 2000 mixes traditional road salt with tap water to create an ice and snow melting brine solution which can be used to pretreat county roads prior to the arrival of bad weather. The state already uses a similar solution.

“I’m really interested in this pretreatment,” Mooney told the court. “Every year the state already has their roads cleared and we’re still working on hard packed snow and ice.”
Joel Collins with SnowEx told the court that the reason for that is KYTC uses brine. Brine not only prevents snow and ice from bonding with the roadway, which aids with removal, it also works to melt snow and ice.

“Salt by itself doesn’t melt anything,” Collins said, pointing out that sunshine and rising temperatures are needed to activate plain salt. “Brine will melt snow and ice, which then also becomes brine.”

The equipment needed for the Brine Pro 2000 will cost between $30-45,000, depending on which, if any, setup is chosen. The annual savings would come from reducing the county’s salt usage by about 50% per winter.

“This is a green initiative,” Collins told the court. “The EPA loves brine because it is less corrosive than salt. Salt isn’t good for anybody. It doesn’t help our ground water or our grass.”

“We’re in a very tight budget,” Magistrate Tony Felker of Providence said. “Coming up with $45,000 isn’t going to be easy. I think you have a good product, but we’ll have to see what we can do.”

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