November 9, 2021 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m.

There was a pretty good crowd in the meeting room which is always a good sign that it’s going to be a good meeting.

Commissioner Gohagan and Hasty were present.

Co-Mo Connect was going to be presenting and it was interesting to see that the guys from Midstate Communication Contractors were there to check out the briefing from their competition.

There was a Public Comment section before the agenda items were heard so it looks like that’s going to be a regular part of the meetings going forward.

The audience warily eyes its new robotic overlord

The first agenda item was the 2022 holidays. The commissioners said it was the usual list of holidays. I wondered if Juneteenth was going to be included in that list. The holiday list was approved unanimously.

The second agenda item was for an appointment to the Senior Citizens Service Board. Jenelle Bednara was approved unanimously by the commissioners to fill the spot on that board.

The third agenda item was an application for a Sheriff’s Safety Grant for $7,408.80 that needed to be signed by the Presiding Commissioner. According to Sheriff Helms, the department was contacted and told they would be eligible for the grant so they are applying for it. The money has to be used for safety equipment. Presiding Commissioner Hasty signed it.

The fourth agenda item was for the Auditor Bid. According to Commissioner Gohagan, there is a problem with the mail delivery at the courthouse because the delivery guys won’t go through the new metal detector when they deliver the mail. Instead they’re just dropping all of the mail at the door. The Commission is going to try to get that issue fixed. Maybe it will happen after they get their staff to start doing passport service again. One of these days. Any day now.

Someone went down and got the sole bid. It was sealed and they opened it at the meeting. The only bid was from BKD for ARPA consulting. They will ensure that Camden County’s ARPA reporting is compliant with federal rules. It includes 50 hours of consulting and they’ll make sure all of the paperwork is in order. According to the Auditor, only two companies in Missouri are qualified to provide these services. The price?


$200,000 to help Camden County spend $8.9 million in ARPA money. Seems to me like we could hire a full time employee to only handle federal grants for that much money, but I’m just a retired detective.

They advertised it in the paper.

Commissioner Gohagan expressed concern that the bid was too high, but the Auditor assured him it was pretty typical for the services being offered. It was approved unanimously.

The fifth agenda item was for the Camden County retirement plan. Camden County contributes 4% annually for its employees. This is the same rate as previous years. It was approved unanimously.

At this point, the Commission adjourned the meeting and we got to see two presentations.

The first was for a UV disinfecting machine from Command Sourcing. It looked like a sentient tanning machine that had gone rogue.

Darren Ward was the sales person and he wheeled the contraption in front of the room to show everyone.

According to Ward, the machine emits UVC light which can kill pathogens. It kills everything in the air and on surfaces that the light can reach. It can disinfect a 1,000 square foot room in seven minutes. For larger rooms, you need to move it to different locations in the room to maximize coverage.

UVC light is bad for people, so you have to leave the room while it’s working. It has a timer so you can set it and then run away before it goes off. It has motion and thermal sensors which will detect any unlucky deputy who wanders into the room by accident and shut itself off. Sounds like some kind of superhero origin story. “Terrible workplace UVC accidental exposure gives deputy sheriff superpowers!”

There is even GPS tracking that records where and when the unit has been used in the facility. The price?

$35,000 for the unit.

Sheriff Helms explained how he found out about the machine. He was at a convention and talked to other jail commanders who told him they use it all the time and like it. Pulaski County just bought one for their jail. It seems like Sheriff Helms has been reading this blog and was ready with all of the right answers to all of the right questions. See how easy this is, Mr. Prosecutor?

You can also buy smaller versions in a two pack for $9,000.

I could see a use for this in the jail. Jail staff get exposed to an alarming variety of crazy bacteria and some of it resistant to antibiotics because tweakers are not known for making sure they take their entire prescription of antibiotics. I’ve had a few friends who worked custody and got nasty skin rashes and infections from inmates. It might actually reduce custody staff sick days and inmate trips to the hospital. They kept talking about wanting to use it in the courtrooms, but I think it would be more effective in the closer confines of a jail environment.

Sheriff Helms was asked if this would come out of his budget. He indicated that he preferred if ARPA money would be used to buy it since it could qualify as a COVID-related expense. I’m not convinced that it would be effective for COVID, but who knows? They were talking about buying a whole bunch of them for $180,000, but before we jump into the bathtub, why don’t we just stick a toe in the water first? Maybe we should buy just one and see how well it works. Just like how regular folks do things when they’re spending their own money.

The final item was a presentation by Co-Mo Connect. Their executive officer had a slide show and they obviously were there because they are interested in securing some of the county’s ARPA funds for broadband expansion. I had to leave early from this meeting, but let’s be honest, most of these presentations are pretty similar. I’ve already written about two public broadband presentations and an unadvertised one that was actually given by Co-Mo a couple of months ago. They’re all pretty much the same.

In summary, Co-Mo Connect currently has 24,000 subscribers and 3,600 miles of fiber line in their network. They have close to 2,000 subscribers on the Lake of the Ozarks area. They want to get ARPA money from Camden County to install fiber broadband service that they will charge Camden County residents to use.

And that was that.

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