Emergency city calls will go to 9-1-1

by Anne Swenson

Ely area citizens will soon be assisted in emergency situations by the service which has become basic in much of America - a 911 call center.<BR><BR>Under discussion since 2002, the Ely City Council on Tuesday finally passed motions which set into action the switch to the St. Louis County’s 911 call center. City employees now being utilized for dispatching emergency services will be given precedence for hiring in other city departments. <BR><BR>It is expected that employees will be absorbed into current openings and will receive their current rate of pay.<BR><BR>Introducing the budget com-mittee’s recommendation for the changes, council member Paul Kess said, “We’ve attached a July 1 target for this.” <BR><BR>Council member Butch Pecha concurred saying, “The fire department has been working with that July 1 in mind.”<BR><BR>Kess reminded those in attendance that “The driving force (for the change) is the budget.” He and the other council members repeated that they believe each of the current dispatchers is doing a good job.<BR><BR>Council member Dan Przybylski said there is little immediate savings, but that the savings will occur over the coming years. <BR><BR>In introducing the vote, Mayor Frank Salerno said, “The deliberation has taken place before this... There are seven of us (a full council) here tonight and seven of us need to make the decision.”<BR><BR>The motion for the change passed with council member Jerome Debeltz voting against it. He said, “I hope everybody is absorbed” into other city jobs.<BR><BR>Dispatcher Louie Gerzin said, “What we’re asking for is an end to the frustration” of not knowing when or how their jobs would end.<BR><BR>Dispatcher Cheryl Anderson thanked the council for finally making a decision on the matter. She said the dispatchers have had do work double shifts and forgo vacations during this time.<BR><BR>Salerno apologized, saying, “I’m sorry it’s taken so long to make this decision... We respect you people and want you to know that.”<BR><BR>The city clerk John Tourville was directed to implement a transition plan for the employees, following union guidelines. <BR><BR>The position of fire chief will be filled in a process of interviewing and screening internally. <BR><BR>“We need to set a date so it doesn’t appear we’re dragging our feet,” Salerno said. <BR><BR>On Tuesday, June 22 a written test will be administered to candidates with an interview set for the evening.<BR><BR>The council has been told the person favored by fire department members for the job: Louie Gerzin.<BR><BR>Police chief Archie Manning and Gerzin noted that certain locks will have to be changed for the police and fire departments. Security issues will also have to be considered during the upgrade to county services. <BR><BR>Tourville was authorized to spend up to $5,000 for the necessary materials needed for the change-over.<BR><BR>In other business, the council:<BR><BR>• Had the first reading of changes for temporary signs from 180 to 14 days;<BR><BR>• Will seek proposals for city web site design and hosting;<BR><BR>• Will move the vehicle impound lot and approved $10,000 for fencing;<BR><BR>• Discussed selling some city property to individuals;<BR><BR>• Voted to reaffirm the recent pay raise for Cheryl Anderson;<BR><BR>• Defined and changed the definition relating to liquor establishments to include "open" in consecutive days; and<BR><BR>• Discussed extending 12th Avenue in order to service the skating rink, Pillow Rock and the Business Park.