Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Socorro Gets Funding For Dispatch Center

By John Larson

SOCORRO – The Socorro Police Department has been awarded $1.7 million for the construction of a dispatch center for the Enhanced 911 program. Police Chief George Van Winkle told the council that the new dispatch center will facilitate faster response times on emergency calls throughout the city and county.
Van Winkle said the money is needed for new and better equipment, and renovation to the police department’s dispatch center.
“It will funnel all 911 calls in the area to our system, including cell phone calls,” Van Winkle said. “Dispatchers will have more information on the screen.”
The E911 system has been mandated by the federal government to facilitate quicker response to all emergency situations.
City Clerk Pat Salome said the next step will be to set up meetings with other agencies such as the Sheriff’s Department, State Police, Magdalena Marshal’s office, and other entities.
“They will decide how each call received is coordinated with whichever agency is to be dispatched,” he said. “The purpose of system is to get the calls to the right people. We [Socorro police dispatch] will handle the calls, and pass it along, channeling them all to the right emergency department.”
In other business
• The council approved the first reading of two ordinances raising water connection fees; one for residences and the other for businesses. A second reading and public hearing will be held at the next council meeting. After a public hearing, in which there no comments or questions from the public, the council approved an ordinance creating a Police Oversight Commission. Mayor Dr. Ravi Bhasker said the next step will be to approve members to the commission, and that interested persons should contact City Hall. Clerk Pat Salome said there will be one member per each quadrant of the city.
• Councilor Donald Monette wondered about how the geothermal heating project would affect the city’s revenues. “If Tech is being heated with their own sources, this will cause our natural gas income to go down,” Monette said. Bhasker said one option for the city would be to generate its own alternative energy sources, and slowly move away from natural gas.
• A resolution authorizing the next municipal election was passed by the council. Voting day will be Mar. 2, 2010. Candidates for mayor and four city council seats must file on Jan. 5 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at City Hall.
• A discussion was held with Bobbi Jo McIntire of Socorro Mental Health who is proposing that the city be the fiscal agent for the Community Health Council. The council gave its approval to proceed, but Bhasker said further action on the matter would be an issue the council would have to discuss.

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