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Local attorney irked by county's hold music

Phelps claims phone system plays 'most obnoxious noise possible'

The Jasper County Board of Supervisors has dealt with a range of issues recently from road conditions to conditions around waterways. Now, Mingo attorney Richard Phelps has brought a new issue to light — the hold music on the county’s phone system.

“I’m here to complain,” Phelps said. “There’s probably not a day when I’m not on the phone with some county office and when you are put on hold, you get the most obnoxious noise possible. It’s not even good music. I don’t even know why you have to listen to music to begin with, but this stuff is just blaring. It’s clanging.”

Jasper County IT Director Celia Robertson and Jasper County Information Systems Network Administrator Ryan Eaton defended the county’s use of hold music and provided statistics to back them.

Eaton read results from a survey conducted by USA Business Telephone Today where it placed 30,000 people — broken into three groups with various conditions — on hold for one minute.

In one group, 10,000 callers were put on hold listening to just one minute of music. Fifty-six percent of those participants estimated their hold time was less than one minute and only 13 percent hung up.

“Most places you call have music,” Robertson said.

Eaton suggested that Phelps lower the volume on his phone to avoid hearing the music and said they have had no other complaints. Board Chair Joe Brock said the board would look into the matter with the county’s IT department.

In other business, after two weeks of deliberation, the board has agreed to join the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance. Brock said after meeting with the county’s other elected officials and department heads they all agreed the program was beneficial.

Some reasons they felt program was a good choice was that there was no cost for joining, and UCGPA said it finds the best prices from reputable vendors.

By becoming members, the county also has the option not to issue Request for Pricing or RFPs — which is the process governing bodies perform when soliciting bids for purchases.

Board member Dennis Stevenson said several citizens expressed concern to him about joining UCGPA, and whether it would prevent the county from buying locally. He addressed the matter during the meeting.

“We belonged to another buying group for a long time and this gives us the best way to find out prices and save us money. I think its the board’s intention — we’ll buy locally any time we can,” Stevenson said. “I want to make it clear: we are not going to quit buying locally.”

In other business:

• Greater Newton Area Chamber of Commerce Interim Executive Director Craig Light received approval to use the courthouse lawn for Ridiculous Day and the car show that will follow from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

• The county will implement a new HIPAA software developed by Compliancy Group. It will cost $4,800 annually.

• Jasper County Veterans Affairs Director Chris Chartier’s annual report was approved. During the 2013-2014 fiscal year, his office increased the number of veterans served to 1,257. It is estimated that the county has 3,100 veterans.

• During public comments, Jasper County Veterans Memorial Committee Chair Doug Bishop said the Memorial Rock portion of the new Jasper County Veterans Memorial would be finished Tuesday.

• A fireworks permit request by Mike Herbold was approved.

Senior staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 6532, or at,

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