Jasper County Emergency Telephone System Board reviewed details on its radio console project during a public hearing last week.

Jasper County Sheriff Brandon Francis, who serves on the board that oversees 911 expenditures and systems, explained the consoles will be included in the new county jail facility. The new system will replace 10-year-old equipment and include advanced touch screen capability. Emergency services will update to Starcom radio units to have standard communications between various agencies within and outside the county, including Illinois State Police and some nearby municipal law enforcement agencies when needed.

The 911 Board is seeking up to $25,000 grant from United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development funding. The total cost of communications upgrade will be several times the grant amount. The board convened the public hearing on July 10 at Newton Parklanes to hear public concerns on the radio project as required by the federal grant process. Questions during the hearing came from the Newton Press Mentor.

After the hearing, the 911 board discussed assignment of 911 addresses relating to 450 additional structures present within the county. Most structures in the county are also subject to property taxes. The upcoming Geographic Information System flight next year (See related story) might also discover some shelters that could need addressing in case of emergencies.

Sheriff Francis said deer camp structures could need 911 addressing coordinates so that emergency services when responding to any accidents or health issues affecting hunters. Some of those hunters are coming from outside Jasper County and they could not be familiar with accurately directing EMS to the scene, Francis said.

In other business, longtime 911 Board member Gary Johnson was given a plaque for his years of service. Newton Police Chief Mike Swick thanked Johnson for his volunteering to public safety. Johnson said he enjoyed his work on the board.