Office of County Administrator
Memo To: La Crosse County Board of Supervisors
From: Steve O’Malley, County Administrator
Date: February 3, 2009
Re: February Monthly Report to the County Board
Attached is the February Monthly Report to the County Board. This report is the next installment in providing monitoring information about department activities to the full County Board instead of primarily reporting only to governing committees.
REMINDER Monthly Reporting by roughly half the organization every other month. While you will receive this report each month, the reports do not cover every department each time.
Solid Waste Director and Landfill Operations Manager vacancies At the February 9th Public Works & Infrastructure Committee, I will recommend that the County proceed with filling a single position of Solid Waste Director at this time, covering the responsibilities of both vacant positions. This change will offer the new Director the opportunity to streamline the department operation and evaluate future needs. Later in the year, the new Solid Waste Director will review the needs of the department to see if there is significant need for an additional position, or other restructuring.
At the meeting I will present a draft job description for input and comment, along with the process that will be used for filling the position. I believe it will be beneficial for the governing committee and the Solid Waste Policy Board to participate in the interviews to help provide advice to the Administrator’s selection.
State Budget recommendation to be announced Feb. 10, 2009 Governor Doyle is expected to present his budget next week and it is highly likely that significant budget cuts will effect the County. The County’s reaction and options will dominate future policy discussions by the County Board, once we are clear on the impact and the final budget is adopted by the State of Wisconsin for the biennium July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me by phone or e-mail as soon as possible.
County Administrator direct line: 785-9789, cell phone 608-385-3316
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
MONTHLY REPORT TO THE COUNTY BOARD
Department of Land Conservation
The La Crosse County Department of Land Conservation develops strategies, implements programs and provides technical assistance to protect and enhance the soil and water resources of the county.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have announced that due to the pending state budget deficits for the remainder of this biennium and the looming deficit for 2010-2011, the approval of the 2009 Grant Allocation Plan to local units of government has been delayed until March 31st of 2009. Governor Doyle’s administration has indicated that there will be reductions in state funding for programs such as Soil and Water Resource Management aids and Nonpoint Source Pollution Grants as well as other aids to County governments. We anticipate that there will be some reduction in the amount of cost-share assistance monies that we receive from DATCP and DNR in 2009. These grant dollars are used to provide financial assistance to landowners who install conservation measures on their lands to improve surface and groundwater quality and preserve our soil resources. Although these cost-share dollars are important to our program implementation, they are not essential. There are many components of our program that do not use financial assistance to implement water quality improvement projects. The Department of Land Conservation will continue to provide quality services to the citizens of the County regardless of the availability of state grants.
All members of the La Crosse County Board of Supervisors will receive a copy of the Department of Land Conservation 2008 Annual report. The report reflects the activities and accomplishments of the department over the past year but also demonstrates long term improvements to the County’s natural resources through the conservation efforts by department staff as well as conservation program participants. Of particular interest to you will be the report on the Adams Creek Monitoring-Signs of Success starting on page 12. This report shows the dramatic come-back of a stream that suffered from high levels of agricultural pollution just a few years ago. Today, water quality monitoring by the Department of Land Conservation shows that the installation and operation of conservation measures by a handful of farmers have greatly improved the quality and condition of Adams Creek. Recent DNR water quality reports have confirmed our accomplishment. If you have any questions about the report or any of our conservation related programs, please stop in and talk to any of our dedicated staff.
Register of Deeds
On Jan. 16, six representatives from La Crosse County went to a scanner demo in Mauston of a wide format scanner they work with there. The scanner looks like it will fit well with what our needs are & we are going to look further into pricing & options for that specific scanner.
The contract for e-recording has now been signed by the county and by Fidlar. We need to do some staff training and customer training then we can record the first e-recorded document in La Crosse County! This is another milestone for the Register of Deeds office and shows our progressive direction and vision for the future.
Mortgage rates have dropped considerably & we are seeing a lot of refinancing documents coming in. Our title companies & lending institutions are reporting that closings have really picked up, which is unusual in the winter time, usually the increase starts during the spring when new construction begins.
Donna Hanson, myself, the Register of Deeds and Treasurer from Vernon County, staff from the Radisson, and Visitor Bureau Staff all met at the Radisson Hotel on Jan. 29th to go over some items for the WACO conference we are hosting in June 2009. We toured the hotel, finalized some of the decisions that needed to be made, and made lists of questions that we need to find answers for. We prepared letters that need to go out to association members, vendors, businesses, speakers, and retirees. We tried to get a tentative schedule of events finalized. There is still more work to be done but we feel we got a good start on some of the details.
Metropolitan Planning Organization
In 2009, the MPO Department staff will be updating the regional bicycle plan that was completed in 1994. Although, a good plan, the existing one needs to be updated with recommendations based on the projects that have been completed and that are planned for the future. The plan we are working on now, the 2010 La Crosse and La Crescent Bicycle Plan, will be completed in early 2010. Goals for the planning process include:
Identify regional bicycling
corridors and provide detailed recommendations for roadway treatments for
experienced and casual riders.
Promote bicycling as a
sustainable transportation alternative to driving.
Encourage tourism and
economic development by promoting the region as a bicycling destination.
Expand the membership of our
Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee to better represent the
communities and bicycling interests in the region.
5. Produce a number of public-use documents, including a regional bicycling and recreation map, a regional commuter bicycling map, and a plan document.
Throughout 2009, a series of meetings of local bicycle advocates, planners and other stakeholders will be held, focusing on recommendations along 9 different regional corridors. The first meeting, focused on Wisconsin 33 in La Crosse and through the Towns of Shelby and Greenfield was held on January 14. The next meeting will focus on recommendations for the La Crescent area, including accommodations associated with the reconstruction of the USH 14/61 and I 90 Interchange when the Dresbach Bridge over the Mississippi River is replaced in 2012.
Please see the LAPC website at www.lapc.org for more information on this exciting bicycle plan.
Zoning, Planning and Land Information Department
Zoning Ordinance Update: Staff has presented drafted concept for the new zoning ordinance to the PR&D Committee. With strong direction from that committee, we will be presenting a similar presentation to the County Towns Association in February for their consideration. We are scheduled to present a full ordinance late in 2009.
Town Comprehensive Plans: The Towns of Washington and Medary have adopted Plans and the Town of Barre has a draft plan in the 30 day comment period. The Town of Bangor, Farmington and Hamilton and the Village of Rockland have completed drafts and are approaching approvals for their draft plans. This means that within a few months, we will have 16 of our 18 county municipalities with completed and adopted plans.
Zoning permits issued through December 31‘08:
Permits through 2008 478 permits with a value of $ 28,031,272.00
Same period in 2007 440 permits with a value of $ 38,428,206.00.
This is an 8.0% change in number of permits issued, with a _-28.1_% change in value of permits issued.
· Over 50 youth ages 5-19 participated in the 4-H Speaking and Demonstration Festival. Communication skills are among the most frequently mentioned skills learned in 4-H and the participants meet with a judge to receive verbal as well as written feedback to help them improve their speaking skills.
· Even though there was a 40 degree drop in temperature from the morning to the evening, 75 youth and adult 4-H volunteers worked the Rotary Lights display on December 14th in Riverside Park. These volunteers came bundled in layers to help collect food and monetary donations, direct traffic as well as help with crowd control.
· Thirty-one people attended a dairy herd health clinic where they learned ways to reduce costs for raising calves, proper hoof care, feeding dry cows, and alternatives to feeding grain during volatile. Another 50 producers and consultants attended the Corn Conference in West Salem, where they learned about fertilizer prices, corn production, future prices and foliar fungicides.
· The Family Living Agent continues to work as a Change Agent facilitating the Vendor Payment and Hiring Process Improvement teams. The Vendor Payment Team recommendations have been accepted by the team sponsor, and the team will be developing action plans for implementation. The Hiring Process team is working to finalize recommendations.
· Twenty-nine community members will begin the Master Gardener General Training program on February 3rd. The 12 week course will educate attendees on a variety of topics from Entomology to Plant Pathology, and once completed help them locally educate others in their communities.
· Between October and December 2008, WNEP staff educated 1482 individuals throughout La Crosse County on nutrition topics including food safety, diet quality, physical activity and how to purchase/prepare economical healthy foods. Thirty eight percent of WNEP participants were senior adults, 36% were youth age 6 to 11, 14% were youth age 4 to 5, 6 % were youth age 12-14, 5 % adults without children and 1 % parents of infants/children.
· WNEP partnered with the La Crosse County 4-H program at a Food and 4-H Fun Day experience for children attending the after-school program at Hamilton Elementary. WNEP staff taught three nutrition sessions on the importance of eating breakfast. Substituting fruit for pancake syrup was discussed as part of the class and children were asked if they would eat applesauce rather than syrup on their pancake before and after the session. The pre-test showed that 20% (4/20) said that they would eat the applesauce as a topping and after the class 60% (12/20) indicated that they would eat applesauce as a topping.
· The Community Resource Development Agent facilitated a group of local construction industry representatives to discuss and respond to the local economic situation facing La Crosse County – in particular regarding home construction.
· The Community Resource Development Agent presented “Renewable Energy & Green Jobs” to the Workforce Development Committee during their annual strategic planning session. This presentation illustrated the potential avenues of green jobs, and was requested as Workforce Development planned for the “green economy”.
MONTHLY REPORT TO THE COUNTY BOARD
Since being appointed Interim Director of the department I have been busy familiarizing myself with the daily operations of the landfill and reviewing contracts and in place policies. With the help of a very knowledgeable and dedicated staff we have been working through any quirks or out of ordinary problems that arise. I have had great support from County Administrator Steve O’Malley, Finance Director Gary Ingvalson and Deputy Finance Director Sharon Davidson.
I have been working with Henry Koch, PE a representative of Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC, who is the contracted consulting firm for our landfill. We have been going through the Solid Waste Management Plan, reviewing the Landfill Operations Contract and reviewing the closeouts of the 2008 construction projects.
Back in December there was a train derailment near Dresbach Minnesota. Pinnacle Engineering was hired by the railroad to clean up the derailment site. Pinnacle requested to bring in contaminated soil from the site. I worked with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on soil analyses and we were able to accept just over 1800 ton of material. Revenue from this project amounted to over $52,000.
I will be working with the landfill consultant on upcoming planned 2009 construction projects and will continue to review all departmental operations and make recommendations to the County Administrator and Public Works and Infrastructure Committee as to any need changes.
Since the writing of my last report winter has hit us with a vengeance. With a record amount of snow for the month of December our crews were out almost every day performing winter maintenance activities. In December alone the department logged over 2200 hours of overtime. The ice storm the last day or so of December and into January presented us with many problems in attempting to clear the roads, especially when the temperatures dropped well below zero. We had to go mainly to salt/sand due to the very cold temperatures which made clear salt very ineffective. We have gone through the salt/sand stockpile we had prepared for the winter and are in the process of mixing more. We ordered 6000 ton of salt for the 2008-2009 winter and so far have taken delivery of approximately 2800 tons. Our new salt storage building construction is progressing and should be available for use by mid February. At that time we intend to order the remaining salt we have ordered.
We have submitted a list of projects to Administrator Steve O’Malley and the Wisconsin County Highway Association (WCHA) that we hope will qualify for stimulus dollars if they become available from the Federal Government. The latest report from the WCHA is that if money becomes available it will most likely go to Surface Transportation Projects (STP’s) that are designed and ready for construction. We have a STP-Rural project on CTH C that has been designed for several years but we have been unable to secure construction funds. This project was on our list and I am hopeful we are successful in obtaining stimulus funds.
MONTHLY REPORT TO THE COUNTY BOARD
Thomas M. Lynch v. County of La Crosse, Western Central Family Care MCO.
Thomas Lynch filed an equal rights complaint with the Department of Workforce Development, Equal Rights Division (ERD) of the State of Wisconsin alleging that the County refused to hire or employ him because of his age (61) in May, 2008 when he was not considered for the Executive Director position of the MCO that was regionalized in 2008 as a separate entity known as Western Wisconsin Cares (WWC). Tim Garrity (born 1967) was hired for the Executive Director position on the basis that he was the most qualified and he has spent his career in the area of director client care and care management services and development of human services programs, along with supervisory and chief operating officer experience. On January 13, 2009, the ERD decided that there is no probable cause to believe that the County and the MCO violated the Wisconsin Fair Employment law by refusing to hire or employ the complainant (Lynch) because of age and therefore the complaint was dismissed. In finding no probable cause in this case, the ERD stated that the employer put forth its legitimate non-discriminatory reason for not hiring the complainant for the position in question, namely that the complainant did not have recent employment experience with an employer that provided direct care services. The ERD also found that although the person selected for the job was much younger than Lynch, he was also in the protected age group (older than 40). This is an important victory for the County in that it confirms that the County hiring process is done in a non-discriminatory manner in accordance with the fair employment law. Lynch has the right to appeal the initial determination to a formal administrative hearing before an administrative law judge.
Debra Gehri-Gilles, et al v. Barbara Greatens, Mary Speltz, La Crosse County Human Services Department, La Crosse County, and Wisconsin Municipal Mutual Insurance Company (WMMIC).
This case was initially commenced in La Crosse County Circuit Court and removed by WMMIC to federal court in Madison. Plaintiff Gehri-Gilles claimed that the Defendants violated her rights under state law and that Defendant Greatens deprived her of her substantive due process rights. In her complaint, Gehri-Gilles alleged that she was harmed by a sexual relationship with her social worker Greatens. The Plaintiff’s children also claimed they suffered the loss of society and companionship of their mother. On July 7, 2006, Federal Judge Shabaz issued an Order dismissing the claims made by the Plaintiffs under 42 U.S.C. s. 1983 for violation of Gehri- Gilles’ substantive due process rights because the sexual relationship was consensual and the professional relationship had been terminated before the parties entered into a personal one. The federal court declined to address the merits of the state law claims, and instead elected to remand those claims to the La Crosse County Circuit Court.
After a long delay that occurred for various reasons, La Crosse County Circuit Judge Todd Bjerke issued his decision on summary judgment motions on January 23, 2009. In his decision, Judge Bjerke dismissed all claims against Mary Speltz, La Crosse County Human Services Department, and La Crosse County. The dismissal of those Defendants from the lawsuit was based on the failure of the Plaintiff to properly and timely provide written notice of the claims sought and damages claimed against the County and the Department for the acts of its agents, Greatens and Speltz, and that the Discretionary Act Immunity Doctrine applies to the acts of Speltz, the Department, and the County and therefore they are immune from liability for injuries resulting from acts performed within the scope of their official duties.
However in a strange twist, Judge Bjerke determined that the policy of liability insurance issued by WMMIC to La Crosse County would not indemnify Defendant Greatens for conduct she engaged in that was outside the scope of her employment (her sexual conduct), but the WMMIC policy would indemnify her for conduct that she was authorized to engage with respect to her clients. Judge Bjerke decided that given the fact that WMMIC’s duty to defend Greatens cannot be effectively separated between the covered and uncovered allegations of Gehri-Gilles’ various claims against Greatens, therefore WMMIC will not be relieved from defending Greatens during the pendency of this action. As a result, the court denied the summary judgment motion filed by WMMIC with respect to its duty to defend Greatens. More proceedings in this case in Circuit Court are anticipated. The defense costs in this case totaled $190,000 as of December, 2008 and will increase as the case continues. Although the County’s exposure was limited to $75,000, the costs that exceed that amount are in the WMMIC layer of coverage and may affect the County’s self-insured retention amounts and liability insurance premiums in the future.
Child Support Report to the Board – February 2009
Listed below are the agency performance numbers ending December 2008.
Dec 08 Dec 07
Performance Measure #1 – Court Order Establishment = 90.48% 86.39%
(measure of cases where order needs to be established/total cases)
Performance Measure #2 – Paternity Establishment = 95.97% 93.33%
(measure of cases where paternity needs to be established/total cases)
Performance Measure #3 – Current Support Collections = 73.23% 73.36%
(measure of current support collected/total amount of current support due)
Performance Measure #4 – Arrears Collections = 47.64% 46.82%
(measure of single payment on an arrears case during the fiscal year – this number usually increases consistently throughout the fiscal year as more payments are made on arrears cases)
2008 was a year of many changes in the Child Support Department. New mandates on reviewing and adjusting cases, reconciliation of birth cost expenses and determination of available health insurance coverage increased the responsibilities of workers. However, the agency has been able to increase performance in almost all categories except the current support collection ratio which remains stagnant. Current economic conditions exacerbate the current support collection ratio as the unemployment rate has a direct correlation with payer’s ability to meet court ordered support obligations.
There is legislation pending under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for $1 billion in incentive matching funds for Child Support Programs. This would restore some of the funding that was eliminated in the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act. The funds would be earmarked for the period October 2008 through December 2010. The agency would again have the ability to obtain 66% Federal reimbursement on the incentive funds currently allocated to our agency. Incentive funds for 2009 are budgeted to be $206,000, so this could equate to as much as $136,000 in funding. The measure has passed the House Ways and Means Committee. It was proposed last week to the Senate Finance Committee. We are hopeful that this will pass the Senate and believe the President will sign it into law.
The Sheriff’s Dept. is currently busy with annual in-service training. The Patrol and Investigative Divisions are currently in the training through February and the Jail will begin their training in February. This training is required by the State of Wisconsin to ensure that all personnel receive 24 hours of updated training. The training covers a wide variety of topics including self defense, firearms, emergency vehicle operation, dealing with the mentally ill, etc. The training is conducted in-house by Sheriff’s Department Staff. Several other local agencies also participate in the training to keep costs minimal to all agencies.
The Dept. is also preparing for several community safety events including LaCrosse, Onalaska and West Salem. These events create relationships with the communities. Demonstrations are conducted involving the boat patrol, tactical team, K-9 unit, DARE, highway safety, etc. The Sheriff’s Dept. is also in the process of working in conjunction with the DNR to conduct a boater safety class in early spring. Several department members are certified DNR instructors in various safety classes (boater safety, hunter safety, etc.) and they are donating their time and efforts in having a class in the spring to not only provide the required training opportunity for our youth, but to build continued relationships with youth and their parents.
Several grant opportunities are available to the Department which is being pursued. Those include a highway safety grant called “Zero in Wisconsin”. This grant focuses on reducing speed, OWI enforcement and seat belt compliance. We are also working with County Health Education on a “Safe Route to School” grant which will involved traffic enforcement on critical routes involving students.
The jail expansion is continuing as planned. At this time the Jail Division is working on establishing a transition committee that will work on details of the operation processes within the jail so that upon opening the facility a smooth transition takes place. Their duties will involve every aspect of jail operations including: how visitors will enter, inmates moved, meals served, rounds made, and policy updates.
As we look ahead to the new year the District Attorney’s Office continues to undergo a time of transition as we have said farewell to former Deputy District Attorney Loralee Clark on January 16, as she has accepted a position with Eau Claire County. In her absence, Attorney Brian Barton has been appointed to the position of Deputy District Attorney. We are looking forward to this opportunity as an ongoing time of change and growth throughout the new year.
The transition into the use of the Electronic Bonds program
is going well and is just another example of growth not only within our
office but throughout La Crosse County as a hole.
2008 Year End Case Statistics…..
Total number of cases charged by type
Felony ………………………….. 804
Misdemeanor ………………… 1761
Juvenile ………………………… 126
Criminal Traffic………………… 854
Traffic non criminal ………… 344
Forfeitures ……………………… 156
Of these cases there were 84 sexual assaults, 22 child abuse, 171 drug, and 993 domestic cases.
2008 Investigators Report
This year I was assigned one hundred and eight cases compared to seventy-four in 1997. Forty-eight subpoenas were assigned to me this year. As in past years my follow ups have resulted in defendants pleading, cases dropped or others being charged instead. I truly believe based on the communications with defense attorney’s that this office has the reputation that the truth is what we seek and to base our actions on those truths.
As in past years I believe a number of cases settle rather then go to trial based on follow up done by this position resulting in huge savings for the county. I also sense a trust factor with the Public Defender’s Office and independent defense attorney’s and will continue to work hard to maintain that trust. Again as I have stated in the past, this position has been the highlight of my law enforcement career.
Clerk of Courts
After two years of planning and coordination on the bonds system, the bonds project went live on January 2, 2009. The bonds software was created by the County IT Department after careful coordination with all departments including IT, DA, Clerk of Courts, and all police agencies in the county. The former paper bonds were inputted into the bonds software the week of December 8th by the hardworking staff of the Clerk of Courts and myself. They bonds were rechecked by court staff for accuracy on New Year’s Eve day and we were unofficially switched over with dispatch being the first agency to use the system to check bonds. As of January 2nd, officers and court staff began creating the bonds in the system. Courts now also dispose of the bonds in the software. There have been a few glitches and bugs but for the most part the switch has gone very well. A committee of users has been formed to monitor the software and make requests and suggestions as to upgrades and enhancements to the system. This project shows the coordinated effort of departments in La Crosse County.
Contracting for court appointed attorneys and guardian ad litems is close to being completed. The last week of January, the judges met to go over the proposed contracts and interested attorneys. Corporation counsel will be getting the attorneys to sign the contracts. This project was another coordinated effort between the county administrator, county board chair, corporation counsel, courts and private attorneys. We hope to have the contracts signed and implemented the first week of March. The contracting was done for a couple reasons – consistency in representation of people and budgetary needs of the county.
I am also happy to report the Clerk of Courts is again at full staff. We have been working short one person since October.
During the months of December 2008 and January 2009 the Medical Examiner’s office investigated the following cases:
December 2008 –January 2009 January 2008 –December 2008
Natural Deaths: 40 Natural Deaths - 642
Accidents: 09 Accidents - 20
Suicide 01 Suicide - 10
Undetermined 01 Undetermined - 6
Pending Tox 00 Pending Tox - 0
Pending Pathology 01 Pending Pathology 0
Total 49 678
Cremation Permits Issued: 79 435
Autopsies Ordered: 6 18
In 2008 there were 18 cases where the cause of death was a direct result of Alcohol and/or drug abuse. The Medical Examiner’s office handled 2 cases, per day on the average. Total revenue from Cremation permits and certification fees was $48975.00.
In January 2009 Jennifer Marks and John Steers, attended the WCMEA training conference in Wausau, while there received training in Death Investigation topics.
John W. Steers, Medical Examiner
9-1-1 Calls 2,233 (average of 74 per day)
Answered within 10 seconds: 93.4%
Answered within 20 seconds: 99.2%
Answered within 40 seconds: 99.9%
Total Calls 24,198 (average of 807 per day)
Calls for Service
Law Enforcement 8,290
Fire Fighting 159
Emergency Medical 446
9-1-1 Calls 2,625 (average of 85 per day)
Answered within 10 seconds: 91.7%
Answered within 20 seconds: 98.8%
Answered within 40 seconds: 99.9%
Total Calls 25,503 (average of 823 per day)
Calls for Service
Law Enforcement 7,745
Fire Fighting 147
Emergency Medical 477
Noteworthy from Ice Storm – November 11, 2008:
· Between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. there were 58 9-1-1 calls.
· Of the 45 accidents in La Crosse County that day, 30 occurred in that same hour.
Public Safety Communications received 28,798 9-1-1 calls in 2008. That is an average of 79 per day and the most in a year since 2002. That is a slight 1% increase over 2007. There were 318,653 total calls (9-1-1, non-emergency and out-going) which is an average of 871 per day. That was a 9% decrease from 2007.
In 2008, 63% of 9-1-1 calls were from wireless telephone sources. This is up from 59% in 2007. A study indicated that 31% of US households now rely only on cellular phones for telephone service and do not have a landline in their homes.
Nancy Lubinski and Tim Vogel were promoted to supervisors of the communications center. The two have nearly 50 years experience between them as Nancy has been a telecommunicator for 30 years and Tim 17.
The Public Safety Communications Center will be using a new interpreter service starting in February. Telelanguage provides interpretation for more than 170 languages, including Spanish and Hmong, with an average connection time of 30 seconds. This service offers a more stream-lined connection process and is more economical than our previous service.
Technology Coordination (Al Blencoe) - The implementation of VisionMOBILE in the La Crosse Fire Department vehicles has offered an opportunity for me to take a role in facilitating bi-weekly meetings to document, define and address various challenges. The meetings have been productive and effective with the project showing progress. These regular meetings have opened dialogue on other topics related to the communications center, LCFD relationship and are expected to continue on a less frequent basis.
The AIM (Analysis, Intelligence and Mapping) previously mentioned in this report is moving forward with projects to provide the City of La Crosse IT Department with La Crosse Police data for them to work on a related project and VisionAIR has invited the La Crosse consortium to participate in the development of a new report/mapping/analysis product with members of LCPD, West Salem Police and the communications center participating.
Recently, Mike Williams of the County IT Department and I met with Onalaska Police to plan the implementation of TraCS, accessing OPD data and the new Electronic Bond project. This is a very positive step forward in the OPD-County technology relationship.
Emergency Management (Keith Butler) - The Tri-State HazMat Group (La Crosse County Emergency Management is a member) sponsored a train derailment workshop at the Stoney Creek Inn, Onalaska on December 3 – 4, 2008. Nearly 150 area responders and planners learned how to manage train derailment incidents. Winona County experienced a train derailment just two weeks after this training was concluded. Although La Crosse County and Wisconsin DNR officials received some notification and limited situational awareness reports during the Dresbach, MN incident, on-site HazMat Team presence was lacking and direct communication with Minnesota authorities was infrequent.
AmeriCorps members concluded a thorough inventory of all four Mass Casualty Team trailers in December. Their efforts were greatly appreciated and some stockpile deficiencies found during the inventory have already been corrected (nitrile gloves and pediatric-sized post-decontamination attire have been purchased). The Mass Casualty Team and the Emergency Management Coordinator responded to a request for on-site support during an apartment building fire at 3 am on December 24. Responders and evacuees were provided with warm blankets and hot food and beverages. This event served as a good test of the night time scene lighting equipment, although it was noted that an additional generator (or two) may be required to provide adequate service during prolonged incidents.
A representative from Northern Natural Gas visited the Emergency Management office and provided updated information regarding the natural gas pipe lines that flow throughout La Crosse County. Laminated maps were supplied and placed in the Dispatch Center and the Emergency Operations Center.
An extensive engineer-led test of the recently enhanced West Central Interoperability Alliance secure network voice communication system was conducted on December 23. La Crosse County was the original lead agency for the development of this system which now connects nearly 30 Wisconsin County Dispatch Centers, 5 State Patrol Dispatch Centers, 12 Emergency Management offices and County Emergency Operations Centers with the State Emergency Operations Center.
Numerous winter storm conference calls occurred during December which resulted in the sharing of storm awareness, preparedness and response information with all area public safety response and public works organizations. This was a significant increase in the number of National Weather Service conference calls during a single month.
The Emergency Management Coordinator met with Town of Holland officials on January 6 to discuss emergency planning concerns. Follow-up sessions have been scheduled on February 3 and March 3. Efforts are underway to meet with all of the Town and Village officials to prepare for tabletop exercising of the various municipal Emergency Operations Plans. The Town of Onalaska has already conducted their exercise.
Emergency Management, representing the Local Emergency Planning Committee, conducted an on-site visit on January 9 at the Kwik Trip Distribution Center in La Crosse to update the hazardous materials response plan.
The Emergency Management Coordinator completed FEMA Special Events Contingency Planning training at Fort McCoy on January 12 – 13, 2009.
Fillmore County (MN) Emergency Management hosted a meeting of County and State Emergency Management officials on January 16. Regional and cross-border concerns (such as mutual aid and radio interoperability) were discussed.
Campbell Township officials invited the Emergency Management Coordinator to present an evening radio system in-service session on January 20, following the all-day Wisconsin Emergency Management West Central Regional meeting in Eau Claire. Nearly 20 responders received information regarding local, regional, and state-wide radio systems and on-scene radio communication plans.
The Local Emergency Planning Committee met on January 21 to conduct an annual review of the by-laws and re-election of officers. Changes to the by-laws may be needed later after the Judiciary and Law Committee receives a presentation regarding the current structure and relationships between the various advisory and administrative committees that relate to the Emergency Services Department. A complete over-haul of the County Code of Ordinances, Chapter 24 – Emergency Government, may be required.