Supervisors Say They Will Block Emergency Radio System If EMA/911 Don’t Comply

Mahaska County Emergency Management Commission Meeting for June 21, 2018.

Mahaska County Emergency Management Commission Meeting for June 21, 2018.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The Mahaska County Emergency Management Agency gathered for their regular meeting Thursday evening.

Mahaska County Sheriff and Chairman of Mahaska County Emergency Management Commission Russ Van Renterghem said that he received a petition on Thursday from the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors. Dustin Hite of the Mahaska County 911 board also received the same petition.

“I’ll just very briefly give you my interpretation of it [petition] in layman terms,” said Van Renterghem. “Then maybe Mark [Groenendyk] can expand on it if he chooses to or correct me if I’m wrong.”

“The petition requests that the EMA Commission and the 911 Board amend their 28E agreement, allowing either or both parties to pull out of the agreement. Then they [Supervisors] are requesting that we then amend our 28E agreement,” said Van Renterghem.

“Right now, the 28E agreement can only be amended by district court. They would like us to amend the 28E allowing either board to pull out or both to pull out. They would like us to pull out of the 28E agreement and they have given us two weeks to respond to that,” said Van Renterghem.

“If we don’t meet these demands, my understanding is they will file a lawsuit in district court asking the district court to void the 28E agreement, to separate the two boards and issue an injunction against the new communications system,” added Van Renterghem.

The 28-page petition from the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors to the two boards was passed along to Mahaska County Emergency Management legal council Mike Mahaffy for his review.

Groenendyk had nothing to add for clarification when Van Renterghem asked that of him.

“What’s the friggin hurry up? Two weeks?” Oskaloosa City Council and commission member Tom Walling asked of Groenendyk. “Well don’t smile.”

“I’m not smiling,” responded Groenendyk.

“Why such a hurry,” asked Walling.

‘What number did you want” asked Groenendyk.

“Well, we’re all trying to work and have jobs and seems like two weeks is pushing it Mark,” added Walling.

“Tom, we’ve been talking about this for a year,” said Groenendyk.

“Well, I know, but now you’ve got a document that attorneys have to review,” said Walling.

“We’ve talked about this for a year Tom,” said Groenendyk. “There’s got to be a time where we say it’s time to punt, pass, or kick.”

Van Renterghem said, “And Mark, this isn’t directed at you personally, or Willie personally. I would rather the petition set a reasonable amount of time rather than… I took the two weeks as an ultimatum. That’s the way I took it, and I didn’t think the ultimatum was appropriate.”

“I think parties on both sides, it’s been talked about for a year, so it’s either time for action or do something, so,” said Groenendyk.

Dustin Hite, who is also the chairperson of the Mahaska County 911 Board said they would need to figure out their attorney situation. The county attorney has been that board’s attorney, but will now need to figure out who would represent that board, and how it would then be paid for. “Honestly, I don’t think two weeks is going to happen, and if they decide to go forward with the lawsuit, I suppose that’s the supervisor’s prerogative.”

“I think we need to see what Mr. Mahaffy suggests,” said Hite.

Questions then arose about Groenendyk’s ability to take part in confidential conversations in regards to the lawsuit, since he is part of the party bringing the lawsuit.

“I’ll probably abstain,” said Groenendyk. “I’ve been advised just to abstain so there’s no conflict of interest.”

Groenendyk asked Hite where it stated that the county attorney was the attorney for the 911 Board since “it is its own entity”.

“The county attorney has always been the attorney for the board,” said Hite.

“I think legally, he’s not required to,” said Groenendyk.

Pella Police Chief Robert Bokinsky said, “I’d just like to make a comment. I don’t think we should be rushed into any decision of this magnitude. We proceed with counsel in a prudent and responsible manner so we can make good decisions. I think if they do sue, and it goes to court, the first thing the court will do is say, this is in bad faith, this 14-day limit. That’s crazy for a 70-some page [28-page documents is part of this larger document] document that hasn’t been out there for a year, it’s been out there for a couple of hours at this point. The issue might have been out there, but the document hasn’t, and that’s what we’re asked to review.”

“It would just be very imprudent to be rushed into a decision,” said Bokinsky.

The commission also heard and discussed 911 updates that included accreditation of the dispatch center, officer down training, and the possibility of integration of HAM radio into the 911 center.

In EMA updates, the commission heard and discussed Medicaid & Medicare-funded facilities that need to have disaster plans in place for compliance.

In addition to those aforementioned facilities, area schools have been working with emergency management to develop school emergency operations plans. Van Renterghem said that North Mahaska, Oskaloosa, and Eddyville have all been onboard in making those needed plans.

Emergency Support Functions were next on the agenda for discussion. Those functions include services like hazmat, and need to be assessed on a yearly basis.

Mahaska County EMA received equipment and some software at no cost from the Healthcare Coalition. Robinson said that nearly $7,000 worth of new equipment and software started to arrive last week, with software arriving after the start of the fiscal year.

The board also approved their newest version of the bylaws. The approval of the bylaws was adopted with two parties, Mark Groenendyk – Mahaska County Supervisors and the Beacon, Iowa representative both rejecting the motion.

Mahaska County Supervisor and EMA Vice-chair Mark Groenendyk said that the bylaws update was something he wanted to take to his legal counsel to make sure it was something the supervisors can or should be signing. “Administrative rules say all parties shall sign them.”

The board approved the paying of bills, which included $2,558.50 to Mahaffey Law Office, and $8,870.00 to Shield Technologies. The board then reviewed the remaining claims.

No date or time has been set for the next meeting of the Mahaska County Emergency Management Agency.

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Posted by on Jun 23 2018. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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