May 10, 2022 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m.

I attended the May 10, 2022 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m.

All commissioners were present.

There were several people in the audience including a uniformed Sunrise Beach police corporal. I’ll be honest. He looked sharp. Sunrise Beach might have a certified street monster over there.

The first agenda item was BKD Addendum.

This was a proposed addition to the current contract with BKD (the consulting firm Camden County already paid $200,000 to assist them with managing the expenditure of the county’s ARPA funds). For approximately $90,000 more, BKD would agree to spend 18 months writing grants for Camden County and training county employees to write grants.

Commissioner Gohagan was skeptical about giving more money to BKD because he didn’t feel they had been very responsive to Camden County government’s questions about anything involving the use of the ARPA funds. Commissioner Williams said he was willing to table this item.

Commissioner Gohagan suggested they use Brian Yansen from the Lake of the Ozarks Council of Local Governments to write grants for Camden County. Gohagan said Yansen would write the grants for less money than BKD wanted. The commissioners praised Yansen and it seems he has made an excellent impression on the Commission.

The Treasurer asked for clarification that the BKD Addendum would mean that BKD was writing grants for the county. Commissioner Williams responded that they would write the grants and also train a county employee to write them. It appears the county intends to hire a full time employee to write grants.

Commissioner Gohagan also mentioned that several Camden County employees are taking classes on grant writing. Ideally, they would like to have a trained grant writer in Road and Bridge, the Sheriff’s Office, and in the main Camden County government.

This item was tabled by the Commission.

The last agenda item was Sunrise Beach radios.

Corporal Scott Craig from the Sunrise Beach Police Department gave a very professional briefing to the Commission regarding their current radio situation. The short of it is that they want $38,684 in ARPA money from Camden County to purchase five portable radios and 2 car radios. They plan to buy the same radios that CCSO uses. Sunrise Beach will handle any other associated costs.

This is similar to what we heard from Linn Creek PD last week. Their portable radios are antiquated and when Camden County switches to digital broadcasting, Sunrise Beach won’t be able to talk to Camden County anymore.

According to Corporal Craig, although the last census report showed that Sunrise Beach only has a population of 428, the last traffic study in January counted 9,600 cars a day passing in front of Sunrise Beach City Hall. It was pretty clear that SBPD is handling a lot of calls for its small size and that will only to continue to increase as the tourism season gets ready to kick off. They have 3 full time officers and are looking to hire a part time officer.

(And No, the Gadfly is not looking to get back on the road. A delicate flower like myself would wilt like a tomato plant in a bulletproof vest with this Missouri humidity.)

Commissioner Williams mentioned that Sunrise Beach PD doesn’t use Camden County Dispatch. That really surprised me, but Corporal Craig said they were using Morgan County Dispatch because Camden County Dispatch was too expensive.

I do have some concerns about this because having Sunrise Beach PD on Camden County Dispatch would seem like a no-brainer for the Camden County Sheriff’s Office.

I totally understand that you would want to make sure they pay for their “pie slice” of the administrative costs of the dispatch center, but including them on your communications network essentially gives you one or two “free” patrol units who can back up that one deputy who gets in a fight or respond to a help call without the delay of trying to relay messages across different frequencies.

That extra $15,000 you make off of a dispatch contract won’t seem like a great deal when you have a deputy who is badly injured or worse because nearby officers got the info too late to respond and assist.

In the end, it sounded like Sunrise Beach is going to meet with the CCSO and see if they can come to an arrangement regarding dispatching. Hopefully, the CCSO will recognize that having SBPD on their dispatch network makes things better for the deputies too.

I am absolutely committed to the idea that all of Camden County’s law enforcement agencies should be on compatible radio systems so they can all communicate with each other. It makes things safer for the officers and deputies and means faster response times for citizens.

But the Gadfly in me starts to ask: Didn’t Sunrise Beach get ARPA money? What did Sunrise Beach spend their ARPA money on? Could some of that Sunrise Beach ARPA money have been spent on these radios?

(Update) It turns out Sunrise Beach received $110,000 in ARPA money. This money was earmarked for water, sewer, and road projects.

And that was that.

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