County commissioners decide against expanded internet service capacity

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

McCOOK, Neb. -- It it ain't broke, don't fix it.

That's the attitude Red Willow County, Nebraska, commissioners took Monday morning when they discussed internet service for the new county jail and law enforcement center that will open this summer.

Sheriff Gene Mahon said he isn't expecting to need much more internet service when the new jail opens, and commissioner Earl McNutt said he's satisfied with the services being provided by McCookNet. "Everything's going fine ... we're satisfied. I've got no complaints with what we've got," McNutt said.

Fellow commissioners Steve Downer and Vesta Dack agreed, with Dack adding, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it."

McCookNet charges $130 a month for internet service for both the courthouse and the current sheriff's office, providing 15 megabytes of bandwidth for both buildings. Wally Hampton, owner of McCookNet, told commissioners that the current equipment has the capacity to deliver up to 100 MB on its wireless network. He said the county is not using even close to the capacity available.

Hampton said he recommends wireless because of its better response time.

Hampton said that the rate he charges for the courthouse and the current sheriff's office won't change with the opening of the new jail unless the county increases its service.

McNutt said, "There's no need to change if we can expand when we need to."

Sheriff Mahon said that, in the new jail, he would like to conduct hearings from the courthouse to the jail cells and telemedicine into and out of the new jail.

In other actions:

* Commissioners decided to open bids for the county's 2014 armor coating projects at 10 a.m., Monday, June 2. The projects this year include the 6 1/2 miles north of Bartley and a 3 1/2-mile stretch of armor coating from Highway 83 at Common Scents west to the intersection, south one mile past the City of McCook's water treatment plant and back east to Highway 83.

* McNutt said that the "drag magnets" that the county road crews are trying out first in District 3 "are pretty amazing." The nails, wire, screws, bolts and chunks of rebar that they've picked up so far have filled one 55-gallon barrel, he said.

Downer said he's hoping the magnets will start to make a difference in the number of flat tires that drivers on county roads experience.

Dack, who lives on a county road northwest of McCook, said that she has had four flat tires recently -- before the magnet pick-up efforts. "Every time they graded the road, I got another flat tire," she said.

McNutt said he bought seven of the 6-inch-by- 8-foot-long magnets for $340 each, cutting a special deal on the shipping.

* Dick Neel of rural McCook, a regional director of membership for the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, offered his help as Red Willow County considers becoming a state-designated "Livestock Friendly County."

Neel said he completed the LFC application documents for Lincoln County, and said he can help Red Willow County's zoning director, Darcy Eckhardt, with the required paperwork.

Neel said the designation is worthwhile for its publicity at the time of the designation and creates the potential for increased exposure to the livestock industry.

* Commissioners approved a resolution to establish the county's policy for employees' reimbursement of travel, cell phone and meal expenses, including meals purchased using the county's credit card. Unless the meal expenses are associated with an overnight stay, the expenses will be considered taxable income.

* Commisisoners approved change orders of $13,068 to add additional four-inch conduit from the jail to the courthouse for phone lines, to reroute an overflow drain in the sallyport and reduce the length of a radiant heater, and to install framed, drywall ceilings in two rooms in the jail.

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