Lincoln County Commissioners

County eyes backup emergency communications plans

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 10:15am

Part of Lincoln County was temporarily left without emergency communications service July 19 after a sheared fiber cable left residents unable to use telephone or internet services. Lincoln County Administrator Carrie Kipfer updated commissioners Aug. 6 on a plan Emergency Management Agency Director Casey Stevens is developing to mitigate a future outage.

Stevens is proposing a network of electronic signs directing residents how to make an emergency call if phone and internet services fail. “He is working on an MOA (memorandum of understanding) with the idea of creating a network of county, municipal and local business signs with a message alerting residents how to contact medical and law enforcement officials if such a situation occurs,” she said. Kipfer told commissioners the plan may lead to other local, county and statewide organizations adopting a similar plan. 

In other action, the county is close to hiring two new deputy sheriff patrol officers and a new county planner, but a replacement for a community development specialist will take a little longer. Sheriff Todd Brackett presented commissioners with two candidates for conditional hiring, Caleb Fortin of Winthrop and Juan Meneses of Newcastle. Both hirings are contingent on background checks. The two candidates also need to attend the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. Brackett told commissioners the two candidates would likely attend a pre-MCJA session this month and enter the academy next August.

Commissioners also unanimously approved the conditional hiring of a Pennsylvanian woman as the new county planner. Elswyrth Strassberger is currently employed by the city of Philadelphia. Kipfer said Strassberger has extensive experience in transportation projects. The county is also performing a background check on her. But the search for a new community development specialist continues. Kipfer reported a top candidate dropped out. “He got a promotion and decided to stay in his current position. So we won’t be looking to hire someone until Elswyrth (Strassberger) gets here,” she said.

Commissioners unanimously approved buying a new recorder for monitoring emergency 911 calls to the communication center. Commissioners approved Director Tom Nelson’s recommendation to buy a new system for $27,949.75 from Eventide Communications in Little Ferry, New Jersey. “The (current) system is six years old, and in this time, it might as well be 30 years old. This (new one) will easily integrate into our system so we can monitor calls for quality assurance,” Nelson said. 

The county is also buying a new aluminum telescoping mast for $10,377.19. The antenna is for local Ham radio operators. Kipfer reported the cost will be reimbursed through a Homeland Security grant. County officials also need to consider replacing an underground oil storage tank at the Sheriff’s Office. The Department of Environmental Protection sent a letter indicating state law requires tank removal when the warranty expires. “The warranty expires in 2020 so we have time to come up with a plan. We can either replace the entire system or devise a plan for extending its usefulness by 10 years,” Kipfer said. 

The commissioners meet next at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20 in the county courthouse.