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— Two of Benton

County's more contentious issues of late are

heading to the Quorum Court with little fan

fare.

During Thursday's Long Range Planning

Committee meeting, justices of the peace

voted unanimously to push reverse 911 and

the merger of the county's two dive teams

before the Quorum Court.

Although the committee heard a presenta

tion on the emergency notification system

CodeRED, Justice Bob Stephenson made it

clear the ruling body had not yet chosen a

contractor for the service. In his motion,

Stephenson called for the county administra

tion to investigate installation of the system

and make a selection through competitive

bidding. The committee voted unanimously

to forward that recommendation to the full

Quorum Court.

After the vote, Stephenson also proposed a

discussion with the county's municipalities to

determine which, if any, are interested in

"participating" in the system as a means to

abate the costs.

Public Services Director Chris Glass then

asked the committee to expedite the merger

of the Benton County dive team and the

Benton County Sheriff's Office dive team into

one unit. The draft ordinance, which the com

mittee unanimously decided to forward to theQuorum Court, calls for the two entities to become one, known as the Benton County Dive Team, and be overseen by the Benton County Dive Team Board. The board is first charged with creating policies and procedures for the combined unit. Glass said the ordinance also consolidates the assets of the two current dive teams.

Glass asked the committee to move quickly with the ordinance in the hopes of enacting it before the end of this year's boating season.

Justice Kurt Moore asked what once would have been a heated question: "Are all parties behind this in favor of it?"

The disputes between the two dive teams extend years into the past, as questions of jurisdiction created a kind of feud between the two. In recent months, however, the teams have apparently embraced the idea, leading to Glass' quick response to Moore's question: "Absolutely."

Glass said the latest draft addressed several issues, including the inclusion of five commissioners as opposed to three, which was done to obey state law.

Glass told justices that his request for expediency was in response to the eagerness of the teams to join. The committee members responded by voting to bypass the Committee of 13 and forward the ordinance directly to the Quorum Court. Although specifically asked, the committee gave no clear direction on the inclusion of an emergency clause in the ordinance.

News, Pages 10 on 08/19/2009

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