The City of Jackson is considering joining the County’s RAVE Alert system, so it can issue alerts to residents who sign up for the service. Alerts can be anything from tornado warnings to snow proclamations to street closures and boil-water orders.
The alerts can be sent out in numerous ways with the click of a mouse. Residents will be able to receive them via text messages, emails, Facebook alerts and voice calls.
Captain Sam Herndon, a paramedic with Jackson Fire Rescue, also serves as deputy director of Emergency Management for Cape County. He described the system to the Jackson Mayor and Board of Aldermen during their study session Feb. 7.
The county has had the system since 2012 for its employees but began making it available to county residents in 2019. It has “been working out very well,” Herndon said. Currently the county has a couple hundred subscribers, but Herndon would like to see that number grow to 3,000 or more by offering the alert system to the cities of Cape and Jackson.
There is no charge for anyone in the county to use the system. The system is paid for by the county’s 911 fund.
“Why use RAVE Alert?” Herndon asked. “The biggest reason is that you can reach a tremendous amount of people in a short amount of time. You can reach pretty much anybody in the city with the click of a button in less than a minute. Just a few short strokes on the keyboard and it’s out.”
The City is not obligated to use this service for any length of time.
Jackson will have its own registration link for its citizens to sign up for the service. Citizens will oversee their own accounts, and will receive only the alerts they choose. They can log in or opt out at any time.
City officials can decide what city alerts to send out. Emergency weather alerts are available on the system. They don’t have to be sent out by city officials; they come from the U.S. Weather Service in Paducah, KY.
If the City chooses to use the system, residents may be notified that it’s available through social media and announcements in their utility bills.
A couple of years ago, the City of Jackson tried out a cell phone app that was used to alert citizens, and close to 1,000 people subscribed before the City lost support for the app from the company providing it and the app fell into disuse.
Mayor Dwain Hahs cautioned that only important alerts be issued on the system. People don’t want their phones going off all the time for notices that are general information and not really emergency alerts.
In other action:
• Deerwood Drive roundabout: MoDOT is seeking the City’s approval of a cost share agreement to constructa roundabout on Highway 61 North at Deerwood Drive.
According to the agreement, MoDOT and the City would share 50 percent of the cost up to $2 million. If the project costs more than that, the overrun would be paid for 100 percent by the City.
During study session, City Attorney Curtis Poore expressed some concerns he had after reviewing the agreement.
One concern is that Mo-DOT can opt out of the contract at any time, but the City cannot. It is not specified that the City would be reimbursed for its costs if MoDOT opted out. The City can request a reimbursement after Aug. 1, 2023, but there is no time line for when reimbursement would actually be made.
The City is required to indemnify the state, but the state does not have to indemnify the City. In other words, if something goes wrong with services provided by the City and a lawsuit results naming both the City and the state, the City would have to pay the state’s legal fees; but the reverse is not true if the fault was the State’s.
“It’s a very one-sided contract in that respect,” he said.
Poore would like to see some negotiation made on the contract, but admitted that this was a “boiler plate” contract; MoDOT uses the same or similar verbiage in all of its contracts, so he didn’t think MoDOT would be open to changes.
Alderman Katy Liley was concerned that construction costs have gone up dramatically in recent months, and wondered if the project could be completed within the budget.
Mayor Dwain Hahs noted that if a new cost analysis shows it will cost $2.5 million instead of $2 million, the state could go ahead with the project and Jackson could not opt out. The City would then be forced to pay the overage.
Many aldermen agreed that they would like to see something done at that intersection, but they would like to see some clarification of details in the contract. Construction is not set to begin until 2024, so there is time for some negotiations, Hahs said.
MoDOT has 25 similar projects throughout the state. Hahs said it would be interesting to see if they negotiated on any of those contracts.
Alderman Paul Sander said he would prefer to see traffic signals installed instead of a roundabout. He said rounda-bouts work best when the traffic from each direction is approximately the same. Except for a couple of times a day, he said 80 percent of the traffic is north-south on Hwy. 61. He said he could not vote to approve the cost sharing agreement until he was convinced that a roundabout was the way to go.
Both the City’s traffic consulting firm (the Lochmueller Group) and MoDOT have recommended a roundabout, and MoDOT will not put a traffic signal at that intersection.
A representative from the Lochmueller Group will be asked to address the aldermen at a future meeting to further discuss the advantages of a roundabout over traffic signals at that location.
• Anderson recognized: The City recognized retiring Shane Anderson for his 24 years of service as the first Parks and Recreation director for the City of Jackson. (His official retirement date was Wednesday, Feb. 9.)
“I’ve enjoyed this time with the city,” Anderson said. “It has been a learning experience for me, but what a wonderful job. It has just been a really good part of my life and I really appreciate it. I thank you for the opportunity.”
Jason Lipe, who replaces Anderson as parks and recreation director, introduced two new employees in his department: Chris Eastridge will fill Lipe’s old shoes as civic center manager and Spencer Sander is recreation supervisor.
• Budget: The 2021 city budget was amended to reflect some funds exceeding their appropriations.
• Inspection services: The aldermen approved paying Strickland Engineering $60 per hour for a resident inspector and $110 per hour for an engineer for the East Main Street Concrete Improvement Project Phase 2, Project 2C.
• Electric substation: A change order to Tom Beus-sink Excavating of Jackson was approved relative to the grading and site preparation for the I-55 electrical substation.
• Tree trimming: The Board of Aldermen approved the extension of a contract with Townsend Tree Service Co., LLC, of Muncie, IN, to trim trees away from electrical lines.
• JFR medical director: The aldermen approved a contract with Ronald Joe Leckie of Jackson for him to serve as medical director/consultant for Jackson Fire Rescue.
• Electric line: The aldermen approved a memorandum of understanding with Daniel H. Rau for an electric line relocation at 1962 Watson Dr., in the Bent Creek Spring Lake Addition.
• Tax holiday: The board approved the City’s participation in the Show-Me Green Sales Tax Holiday April 19-25.
• Humane Society: The aldermen approved a contract between the City and the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri (now called Southeast Missouri Pets).
• Appointments: The Board approved the mayor’s appointments of Eric Fraley to the Planning and Zoning Commission and Michelle Flath to the Park Board.
• Daycare: The Board brought from the table an ordinance approving a special use permit for a daycare in an R-4 (general residential) district at 804 E. Main St., as submitted by Little Buttercups, LLC. The aldermen then unanimously voted down the request.
• Annexations: The Board approved the annexation of four acres of property at 2336 S. Old Orchard Rd., and approved the rezoning of that property from R-1 (single family residential) to C-2 (general commercial) as requested by KB413, LLC.
The aldermen also approved an annexation agreement with Independence Self Storage LLC, regarding the voluntary annexation of property at 720 Old Orchard Rd.