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Reverse 911 alert system to be explored for tornados

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news Park Rapids, 56470

Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Hubbard County Emergency Management Director Dave W. Konshok said he will explore the feasibility of the county purchasing a reverse 911 dialing system in the event of emergencies.

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When two tornados struck the region in June 2008, a post-tornado review highlighted the weaknesses of the region's emergency notification system. Most residents couldn't hear the city's tornado siren, which was sounded well after the powerful storms had swept through.

Some lucky residents had weather radios for warning, but the tornados bore down on the county so quickly, even those were of little help.

Konshok told the Hubbard County bard last week that "competition is driving prices down" in-home systems that would alert residents to such pending disasters.

In the case of a calling system, residents would put themselves on a do-call list to be notified.

'Sirens are great but they're expensive and have limited geographic range," Konshok said. Clay County has implemented such a reverse 911 system that places calls to both land lines and cell phones in the event of an emergency.

In other county business the board:

-Heard that county employees, in an effort to reduce their insurance premium increases for high deductible health plans, voluntarily increased their deductible limits $100 on some plans to limit the premium increase to 8.8 percent instead of 13 percent. They also agreed to increased drug co-pays and changes in formularies on some prescription drug plans. The overall savings could exceed $80,000.

"I have to say our employees are pretty reasonable," said commissioner Dick Devine. "They voluntarily took less to save the county money."

"They probably saved somebody's job," said commissioner Cal Johannsen.

"Eighty-thousand plus, that's a couple people's jobs," Devine replied. "We owe 'em thanks."

-Gave the Hubbard County Historical Society and North Country Museum of Arts an additional $1,370 to cover unanticipated expenses for utilities in the old courthouse building the charitable groups occupy.

-Made amendments to the Subsurface Sewage Treatment System Ordinance in accordance with recommendations from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. MPCA reviewed the ordinance for compliance with state laws. A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 4 at 12:30 p.m. on the changes.

-Authorized the Parks and Recreation Department to spend up to $2,500 to repair the Heartland Park Beach wall. A muskrat bored under the wall sometime last spring, creating a hazardous hole in the wall.

-Approved a lease agreement with Dick Walsh Forest Products for the company to stockpile timber in a gravel pit off County Road 45. The company will pay $300 plus property tax of a renewable one-year lease.

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