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Lightning strike at law enforcement center was a direct hit

Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 10:54 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 11:14 a.m. CDT

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Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty said a private consulting firm confirmed the lightning strike that hit the Jasper County Law Enforcement Center a few weeks ago, was a direct hit.

“It actually burned one of the ground lugs off of one of the tower legs. Obviously, we are still finding some things. Up to several months out, you can have something working right after the strike and then three to six months out, you can have a failure,” Halferty said.

Halferty’s comments during Tuesday’s meeting of the Jasper County Board of Supervisors. He told the board that they were working on getting everything back in order and were currently taking bids on the matter. His biggest concern from the strike damage was the center’s “datalink”  located on the emergency operations side of the facility.

“That datalink runs our video court, so that for security reasons we don’t have to take inmates to the courthouse for initials. The judge can do it over the TV basically,” he said. “It is also our link to allow us to talk and communicate with Skiff hospital. It is also a link for the Newton Public Safety building … where we can send information to the police department and fire department.”

Halferty estimated repairing the datalink could be $30,000 to $40,000. He said insurance will cover the damages, but they may need to borrow funds from the county to pay for repairs until that money flows in unless they can make deal with companies making repairs.

He also indicated there is no estimate yet on the total cost of repairing everything and he previously estimated it could be in the $100,000 range.

The tower the lightning struck is 96 feet tall and Halferty said this incident also slowed down the virtualization project his office was undergoing with Jasper County’s IT Department.

In addition to updating the board on that matter, Halferty received approval for a number of others things:

His 2013-2014 fiscal year report was approved.  Halferty’s  office had $725,988.02 in receipts and $729,143.94 in disbursements.

In his more recent quarterly report, his office had $191,668.20 in receipts and $193,379.53 in disbursements.

The amended version of the previous quarterly report was approved and showed the office taking in $159,101.77 and disbursing $146,635.27. This was a $400 difference due to an accounting error from the previously approved version.

Vance Weltha and Amy Baldus were approved as reserve deputies.

Ryan Engle was previously approved by the board to start work as sheriff’s deputy on July 6, and the board officially appointed him at Tuesday’s meeting.

In other business:

Jasper County Recorder Nancy Parrott  office’s June report was approved. According to the report, her office collected $19,883.49 for the month. She said her office had a 25 percent increase in collections for the month with most of it relating to real estate.

Larry Ryan, of the Jasper County Planning and Zoning office, said his office has seen a number of increased inspections which helped contribute to the higher real estate figure.

The county will purchase a final pass compactor, a tool in road maintenance and construction, from Parkman, Wyo.-based Bulldogger Services Inc. for $27,900.

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