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City of Lockhart, VFDs enter dispatch agreement

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

In an effort to improve service to their communities, the chiefs of several area volunteer fire departments approached the Lockhart City Council on Tuesday to request dispatching services be moved from Caldwell County to the City of Lockhart.

A memorandum to city manager Vance Rodgers from a contingent of volunteer fir

e department personnel suggested the departments have encountered difficulties in receiving timely information under the current dispatching procedures, which involves radio traffic through two organizations on calls where volunteer fire departments and Lockhart-Caldwell County EMS are involved. Lockhart Police Department Captain John Roescher said LCCEMS has reported some of the same difficulties.

“We don’t want to get into a situation of saying our [dispatch procedures] are better than [the Sheriff’s Department],” Mayor James “Jimmy” Bertram said. “I support this, because these guys, who are out there in their communities and working these calls think it’s going to allow them to better serve the people they are out there to protect.”

A lengthy discussion about the possibilities of a “combined dispatch,” led by District Four Councilmember Richard Banks ensued, but was eventually quelled by city attorney Peter Gruning.

For years, Lockhart and Caldwell County officials have been in discussions about a countywide combined dispatch service, which will centralize the three dispatch centers: Lockhart, Luling and Caldwell County. The idea has been met with resistance from several different areas, and some expressed hope that this step will move the county closer to that goal.

“We support a combined dispatch,” said Maxwell VFD Chief Don LeClerc. “Right now, we’re in the situation where some of the departments are dispatched by the Sheriff, some are dispatched by Luling, and that’s why everyone isn’t here and asking to make this move. And we don’t know what we can do to get a combined dispatch going, but we hope this is going to get us one step closer.”

The council agreed unanimously that the City should do whatever is necessary to help the volunteer departments better serve their community, and will enter into discussions with the departments to draft a dispatching agreement.

Roescher said moving VFD dispatching to the city will not create a significant increase in workload for the communications department, and is not expected to cost the city any additional money.

In other business, the council discussed a report given by the Library Advisory Board that spells out the goals for library services over the next ten years.

Central to the “long range plan” are hopes to complete renovations of the Masonic Building, allowing for additional space for the Technology Center and reading and conference rooms on the second and third floors of that structure. Initial reports from structural engineers indicate the upper floors of the Masonic Building may also be suitable for stacks, which might allow the library to expand its current inventory.

Also included in the plan is a request to prosecute library patrons who do not return materials to the library. Gruning said the prosecution language is standard to many area libraries, and that statutes are in place under the Texas Penal Code to allow such prosecution through the municipal court.
The council will use the long-range plan as a guideline in future budget years.

In brief news:

The council approved a change in the bylaws of the Lockhart Economic Development Corporation which will allow the corporation to hire an attorney other than the city attorney. Gruning said he was in support of the change, because there is a possibility that advising both the city council and the corporation could pose a conflict of interest for him.

They approved a zoning change for two properties in the Lockhart Industrial Park. The property may soon be home to a hardware store and lumber yard.

They discussed, at Banks’ request, expanding the use of the City of Lockhart’s website and Time Warner Cable Channel 10 to provide community news, including election results and sports scores. Banks said he had been disappointed during the recent general election to discover there was no local source for immediate coverage of election results.

They reappointed Alfredo Munoz to the Civil Service Commission for a three-year term, and chose several members for the Lockhart Animal Shelter Ad Hoc Committee.

The Lockhart City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month in the Glosserman Conference Room of Lockhart City Hall. The meetings are open to the public and are broadcast on Time Warner Cable Channel 10.

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