County commission asks for funding to prevent homelessness; discusses 911 software upgrade

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cape Girardeau County has submitted an application that would help combat homelessness in the area.

During Thursday's Cape Girardeau County Commission meeting, Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones signed an application for $177,649 in stimulus funding. If approved, the money would be used for rental assistance, security and utility deposits, utility payments, hotel and motel vouchers, case management and outreach and engagement of the person's overall needs with an emphasis on homelessness prevention.

The application is due at the Missouri Department of Social Services on Monday.

Margaret Yates, grant administrator with the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission, presented the application to the commission during the meeting.

"It gives extra funding that will be available to help more people," Yates said. "There's always a shortage of funds. The money will help the people who need it the most, either those who are homeless now or prevent them from being homeless."

Later in the meeting, Cape Girardeau County Emergency Management Agency director Dick Knaup updated the commission on negotiations with AT&T that he hopes will lead to better tracking of 911 calls in the county.

The commission is expected to vote on the proposal within three weeks.

Knaup hopes the county can one day install a system to track 911 calls from cell phones. He said it will be difficult to fund without having a monthly surcharge on individual cell phone bills.

Knaup said, "911 is not a free governmental service. It's based solely on a service charge on copper wire phones.

"Unfortunately that's carried the burden of cell phone calls," Knaup said. "For us, the technology it takes to accomplish that is not cheap. But it's a small price to pay if it saves your life."

Jones agreed with the need for a surcharge and said he hopes the Missouri Legislature will act on the matter in the near future.

State Sen. Jason Crowell has said consolidation of emergency call centers is needed rather than enacting a law for a statewide cell phone tax. The Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department, Cape Girardeau Police Department and Jackson Police Department are the three 911 call centers in the county.

In other action, the commission:

* Heard an update from University of Missouri Extension staff from Cape Girardeau County on its programs such as a subirrigation system in Gordonville farms, homemaker and 4-H clubs and small-business development classes.

* Awarded a $124,530 contract to Tom Beussink Excavating of Jackson on a project for grading improvements on County Road 444.

* Approved the appointment of Cliff Rudesill to the CLIFF board.

* Approved the purchase of a new excavator through a state bid.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

Pertinent address:

1 Barton Square, Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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