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Call traffic at 911 a mixed bag
Communications stats for 2018 presented
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The year has been hectic at the Barton County Communications Office. - photo by Tribune file photo

It’s been a year of transition at the Barton County Communications Office, 911 Director Dena Popp said as she recounted the conversion to an 800 megahertz radio network and call traffic statistics for 2018. 

In a report for county commissioners given Monday, she said dispatchers created and processed 42,040 dispatch cards in Enterpol CAD (computer-aided dispatch). These “cards” are digital records of when an officer is dispatched, an officer makes a stop or an officer handles a court-related matter.

The number of these is down from 45,000 last year. 

Communications handled a total of 97,891 phone calls from both incoming and outgoing lines in 2018, Popp said. This is an increase of 11,000 over the previous year.

Of those, 12,953 were 911 calls and 84,938 were administrative calls answered from the public and officers/deputies. Of the incoming 911 calls, 98.74 percent of them were answered within 15 seconds.

“The number of administrative calls is up,” Popp said. There were about 23,000 more in 2018 than 2017, attributed in part to the department fielding more call from officers seeking assistance.

As for 911 calls, there were around 90 fewer year over year, she said. Communications has conducted awareness campaigns informing the public on when to call 911 and when to use the administrative number, and this has helped.

In addition, the office dealt with 335,012 radio transmissions from emergency responders. This is up from about 303,000 in 2017.

In 2018, Communications added 800 megahertz radios in the communications center, Popp said. The department is currently maintaining both 800 and UHF frequencies until all law enforcement, fire and EMS make the transition to 800 MHz. 

July 1, 2020, is the target date for all jurisdictions within Barton County to make the switch. That goal is feasible, she said.

So, there has been a lot of testing going on, she said. This has led to part of the spike in radio traffic.  

Other highlights from Popp’s report were:

• The busiest month was October, and the slowest month was February. 

• About 78 percent of the 911 calls were from wireless devices. 

County Appraiser’s Office out and about

Health Department staying busy


Barton County Clerk Donna Zimmerman gave an update on departmental activities during the County Commission meeting Monday morning. Below is a recap of some of the highlights:

County Appraiser Barb Esfeld

• Appraisal staff is currently out in the county measuring properties that have had building permits, properties that have sold and reviewing other properties for the 2019 values. As always, Barton County vehicles have the county logo on the side and all employees will be wearing badges. 

• 2018 first-half payment under protest meetings began Jan. 2. Properties under appeal are for the 2018 values. 

• 2019 real estate values will be mailed by March 1 per KSA 79-1460a. Taxpayers are encouraged to review their value and appeal to the county appraiser within 30 days subsequent to the date the notice was mailed if they believe the value is in error. 

Health Director Shelly Schneider

• The Health Department provided 8,677 immunizations in the year 2018.

• Completed the transition to electronic health records.

• New programs include:

Lifting Young Families Towards Excellence (LYFTE)


Extended outreaches

Opioid response crisis work

• Continued work with immunizations and lab outreaches.

• Provided WIC to an average case load off 600 women, infants and children.

• Increased number of counties in childcare licensing from three to six.

• Continuing work in adverse childhood events and trauma informed care.

• Received an opioid grant for approximately $40,000 with no cost to the county.

Emergency Management Director/Risk Manager Amy Miller

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management, Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Kansas Forest Service hosted the Kansas 2019 Wildfire Outlook Seminar on Dec. 12 in Wichita. The event provided a review of 2018 wildland fires in Kansas, as well as a refresher on the reporting requirements of fires and the process for requesting mutual aid and additional resources through KDEM.

Drought conditions the last three years contributed to wildland fires coming to the forefront of disasters in the state of Kansas, Miller said. After-action reports and reviews of fires during 2016, 2017 and 2018 provided insights into how to respond more efficiently and additional emergency planning needed for wildland fire response. 

Additional topics covered during the seminar included: weather and climatology outlook, current state initiatives, building capacity intrastate and interstate, aerial wildland firefighting capabilities available from the Kansas Air National Guard, and incident decision support services available to emergency managers from the National Weather Service offices in Kansas. 


County Works Director Darren Williams

Road and Bridge – Working on entrances to include rocking from the edge of the pavement to the right of way. Installing entrances and working on bridges where erosion has occurred. Personnel treated bridges, intersections and trouble spots for icy conditions on December 27, 2018. 

Noxious Weed – Finishing spraying county roads.  

Juvenile Services Director Marissa Woodmansee

• Intake and Assessment staff have completed 57 intakes since Nov. 26, 2018. 

• Juvenile Intensive Supervised Probation and Case Management is currently supervising 44 youth from the 20th Judicial District.

• Project Stay is the Case Management program for youth who have truancy issues and currently provides Case Management for 14 youth in the district.

• Immediate Intervention has 24 youth currently participating in the program.

• All-Stars classes are being provided to sixth-grade students and one middle school class from Central Plains Unified School District.