The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

February 16, 2013

River Hills looking at property outside city limits

Health center still needs sewer line connection to city, will do so at no cost to city

OTTUMWA — River Hills Community Health Center is looking at the possibility of leaving downtown Ottumwa for a new location just outside city limits.

In order to take advantage of a grant and build its new facility, River Hills CEO Rick Johnson hopes the Ottumwa City Council will approve his request to connect the new building to the city sewer system at the council’s meeting Tuesday night.

The new health center would be located on Hutchinson Avenue.

The sewer connection would be at no cost to the city, Johnson said, because River Hills plans to cover the cost from where the sewer system ends to its new property.

If approved, River Hills would pay the $500 sewer connection fee and would be paying sewer rates of 125 percent of the base sewer rate, since the property being served is outside city limits.

Johnson previously told the council that the advantages of being closer to the medical community outweighed his health center’s considerations of staying within city limits.

“By us being isolated and stuck downtown for the last 12 years, it has not done a lot to enhance our referral system and our relationship with medical players in the community,” Johnson previously said.

New grant, equipment for OPD

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau has invited the Ottumwa Police Department to apply for a three-year traffic safety grant.

Since 1988, the OPD has partnered with GTSB to enhance traffic safety efforts, which have included purchasing traffic safety-related equipment and paying overtime for special traffic enforcement activities.

This proposal requests nearly $50,000 in grant funding be used for overtime wages and another $13,000 for traffic safety equipment, including a handheld radar, five moving radars and one in-car video camera.

The GTSB will pay 100 percent of the officer overtime wages for the first two years of the contract, while the OPD would be required to provide a 25 percent match during the third year, which would total $12,402.

The OPD is also requesting the purchase of nearly $70,000 worth of radio equipment from RACOM Corporation, of Marshalltown.

This radio equipment is “part two” of switching the department’s radio frequencies from UHF to VHF.

The OPD currently uses UHF frequency for its radio communications, while all other public safety agencies in southeast Iowa use VHF, including the Ottumwa Fire Department and the Wapello County Sheriff’s Department.

In critical incidents, the OPD has to go through the dispatcher, who then has to contact either the dispatcher of the other agency or an officer with the other agency and then relay that information to the officer.

More and more governmental agencies have started using radio frequencies, which has also resulted in narrowbanding (splitting frequencies).

At the Aug. 13 City Council work session, the OPD outlined its interoperable communications project. The first purchase of equipment and new FCC licenses was approved in September.

This second purchase will allow the OPD to acquire the remaining equipment for the project, which will include 38 portable radios and accessories and one dual mobile radio for the ERT vehicle.

Of the nearly $70,000 required for the equipment, $60,000 will come from the city’s CIP program, with the remaining nearly $10,000 coming from a 2012 JAG grant.

The new radio system should be operational by April or May, depending on how long it takes for the new communications tower to be constructed.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda:

• McLeodUSA Telecommunications Services, Inc., a Windstream Company, has requested a long-term agreement with the city to allow for the construction of a high-bandwidth, fiber-based communications network and is constructing a fiber optic cable system within the city.

• The Ottumwa Fire Department will present a report to the council.

• Considering the revised policy for reserving city park shelters.

The council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at City Hall. The meeting will air live on GO-TV, cable channel 6.

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