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9-1-1 operators: Life, death, cheese and jalapeños

jalapenoThe men and women who serve as dispatchers in the College Station Police Department’s Emergency Communications Center may work long hours in a dark room surrounded by computer screens, but make no mistake — we lead interesting lives.

As the highly trained professionals who answer 9-1-1 emergency calls around the clock, we are the first first responders for people in emergency situations. Last year, we received more than 30,000 calls from the 9-1-1 system and more than 200,000 non-emergency calls.

Emergency dispatchers are the first to respond to a number of life-threatening incidents and serve as audio witnesses to almost everything you can imagine — and some things you can’t. We can talk you through emergencies and provide treatment instructions before help arrives.

In addition, operators field questions about all types of complaints while coordinating priorities to serve the public in the best and fastest way possible. Working tirelessly behind the scenes, these individuals can make the difference between life and death.

We’ve heard children being born and grown people dying.

We also get calls about when midnight yell practice starts and angry reports from people at drive-thru restaurants who didn’t get the jalapeños they ordered on their burger.

A few years ago, a caller reported that Chick-fil-A has been robbed because the lights were off and the cash drawers were open. I always assumed everyone knew Chick-fil-A was closed on Sundays.

Sometimes, misunderstandings occur. A lady once called from a fast food restaurant to report that her “cheese” had been stolen. We were a bit puzzled, but when she finally mentioned she couldn’t drive home, we realized it was her keys that had been taken.

I spent 23 years in public safety on the south side and suburbs of Chicago, so I know what professionals look like, and College Station’s dispatchers fit the bill. The elevated level of service they provide to our citizens is a distinct source of pride.

In other centers that I managed, no one but telecommunicators and administrative personnel were allowed in the dispatch center — including police officers. While that provided a measure of security, it also caused a disconnect between operators and emergency responders.

In College Station, our personnel deal directly with officers and firefighters, which means a greater sense of accountability should a call go bad. Since we get to know our officers and their idiosyncrasies, seasoned operators know by an officer’s tone of voice if they are sensing or even involved in a dangerous situation.   

ab6a1615-4124-4b51-95c0-0abb1d135010As a division of a city department, we’re also connected to hundreds of other good folks who work for the City of College Station and make up our extended family. The Emergency Communications Center has been nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies since 2003.

In recognition of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, we honor our Telecommunicators with a special thank you for their ongoing hard work and untiring dedication in their efforts to keep our city, citizens and responders safe. 

 Robert Radtke
 
 
Robert Radtke | CSPD Communications Manager
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Traveling South Koreans to teach senior fitness class

institutelogoeng-1The monumental success of the Brazos Valley Senior Games in February opened a lot of eyes in the Brazos Valley. With more than 400 athletes above the age of 50 participating, the College Station Parks and Recreation Department also needed plenty of volunteer help to make the event succeed.

Among the dozens of enthusiastic volunteers were Dr. Jinmoo Heo and many of his students from Texas A&M’s Recreation, Parks and Tourism Sciences Department. The games’ participation numbers prompted Dr. Heo to approach the city about a traveling fitness program sponsored by South Korea’s Global Senior Health Promotion Institute.

With Dr. Heo’s assistance, we reached out to the institute and it graciously added a stop in College Station to its busy schedule. A four-member team will lead a free one-hour senior fitness class on Tuesday, April 22 at 10 a.m. at Southwood Community Center, focusing on grace, balance and control.

Here’s a sample of the institute’s programs:

 

A unique opportunity

The group is dedicated to improving senior health around the world through research and theory development with an emphasis on breathing, flexibility, and physical exercise. The institute’s director, Dr. Youngshin Won—a professor in the Department of Sport and Leisure Studies at South Korea’s Yonsei University—will lead the team. Traveling with Dr. Won will be Jin Won Kim, Shagnhee Lee and Ki Hyun Do.

This free class is a unique opportunity for senior adults to participate in a fitness program based on the latest research and designed especially for seniors. If you are interested in being healthier in your golden years, don’t miss this chance.

To register or get more information, call 979-764-6351 or email me at mrodgers@cstx.gov.

The Parks and Recreation Department promotes senior health and fitness through a variety of activities at Southwood and the Lincoln Recreation Center. To find the perfect program for you, check out our monthly calendar of events and classes at cstx.gov/seniors.

Marci Rodgers
 
 
Marci Rodgers | Senior Services Coordinator
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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (April 10)

gavel[1]This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, April 10. It’s not the official minutes.

Both meetings are being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and can also be watched online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

6:10 p.m.

The workshop meeting has started.

6:42 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting, but these items were pulled for workshop discussion:

  • Free Parking on Boyett Street: Approval of this item would establish four free parking spaces on the west side of Boyett from Patricia Street to Church Avenue, which would bring to 17 the number of free on-street parking spaces in the Northgate District.
  • USGS Joint Funding Agreement: The joint funding agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey for stream stations would help provide actual field-measured data for the calibration of engineered flood studies. The city’s regulated floodplains impact hundreds of properties valued at millions of dollars, and many of the city’s major capital projects are influenced by flood studies, which also impact associated flood insurance rates and development regulation.
  • Water Conservation Grant: The inter-local agreement includes a $57,500 grant from the Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District to create a system to help residents avoid overwatering their landscapes and lawns. The system would include a weather station and rain gauges that auto-report to a database and website created by Texas A&M Agri-Life.
  • Enterprise Resource Planning Replacement Project: The consent agenda includes two items related to the ERP project to replace the city’s wide-ranging business software: (1) A $69,000 software maintenance and support agreement and a $531,000 license and installation agreement with CRW Systems, Inc.; and (2) a master agreement for $1,421,077 with Tyler Technologies for software licenses and implementation services.
  • Emergency Management Plan: The 2014 Emergency Management Plan outlines the approach of local government entities to emergency operations and provides general guidance for emergency management.

7:07 p.m. 

P&Z Commission Plan of Work

The council unanimously voted to accept the Planning and Zoning Commission‘s 2014 plan of work.

 7:54 p.m.

Rental Registration Program changes

The council discussed recommended changes to the rental registration program and related code enforcement efforts. The council did not vote on the proposed changes, and a public hearing will be scheduled at a later date. For more detail on the recommendations, see pages 9-14 of the workshop packet.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

8:04 p.m.

After the council discussed its calendar, future agenda items and committee reports, the workshop meeting was adjourned.

8:05 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

8:08 p.m.

Rock Prairie Behavioral Health Day

Mayor Nancy Berry revisited its April 7 action of proclaiming that day as Rock Prairie Behavioral Health Day to mark the grand opening of the new mental health facility on Normand Drive near the College Station Medical Center. The 55,000-square foot, 72-bed facility treats children, adolescents, adults and seniors. Pictured below are (l-r): MaxAnne Jones, RPBH director of Human Resources; Laurie Garrett, RPBH executive administrative assistant; Mayor Nancy Berry; Duane Runyan, RPBH chief executive officer; and Anthony Moore, RPBH director of Business Development.

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8:24 p.m.

Hear Visitors

Six people spoke during Hear Visitors, when citizens may address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted regular agenda: Ben Roper recognized Cpl. Brian M. Kennedy of Houston, who died in 2003 in Operation Iraqi Freedom; members of the Brazos County Health Department promoted National Public Health Week; Two people spoke in support of the rental registration program and increased fines for violations; one person was against the program because he said existing ordinances address rental housing issues; and one person said he was concerned about privacy and compliance issues in the program.

 8:25 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council unanimously approved the entire consent agenda:

  • A $147,628 contract with CENTEX Hydroseed, plus $11,000 for one alternate, for improvements to athletic fields in Veterans Park and Athletic Complex.
  • Four free parking spaces on the west side of Boyett from Patricia Street to Church Avenue, bringing to 17 the number of free on-street parking spaces in the Northgate District.
  • A joint funding agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey for water resources investigations for stream stations.
  • An estoppel certificate with Northgate and the Research Valley Partnership.
  • An inter-local agreement that includes a $57,500 grant from the Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District to create a system to help residents avoid overwatering their landscapes and lawns. The system will include a weather station and rain gauges that auto-report to a database and website created by Texas A&M Agri-Life.
  • A $69,000 software maintenance and support agreement and a $531,000 license and installation agreement with CRW Systems, Inc.
  • A master agreement for $1,421,077 with Tyler Technologies for software licenses and implementation services for the Enterprise Resource Planning system.
  • A payment of $140,001.90 to the Brazos Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau for preferred access to Texas A&M University facilities.
  • The 2014 Emergency Management Plan.

8:29 p.m.

Montclair Avenue Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council unanimously voted to change the zoning district boundaries from Duplex to General Suburban for about a half-acre of land generally located at 805-809 Montclair Avenue.

8:31 p.m.

Barron Road Rezoning

After another public hearing, the council also unanimously voted to change the zoning district boundaries from Rural to General Suburban for about two acres generally located at 2670 Barron Road.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council (this presentation also includes the Montclair rezoning from the previous agenda item):

 

8:52 p.m.

Barracks II Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council voted 6-0 to change the zoning district boundaries from Rural and Planned Development District to Planned Development District for about 88 acres in the Barracks II Subdivision, which is generally located at 12470 Barron Road. Place 5 Councilmember Julie Schultz recused herself from the vote, citing a conflict of interest.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

9:08 p.m.

Budget Amendment No. 3

After a public hearing, the council unanimously voted to amend the FY 14 budget to provide $46,327 in additional hotel tax funds for the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau’s grant program.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

9:08 p.m.

The regular meeting was adjourned. The council meets again April 24.

 

 

TxDOT: SH 6 ramp and lane closures to start Tuesday

TXDOT_2000px[1]The Texas Department of Transportation sent out this press release earlier today. Please note that these closures will be for about three months:

On Tuesday, April 15, 2014, beginning at 8:30 a.m., the Texas Department of Transportation’s contractor will close two SH 6 northbound ramps and a northbound frontage road lane between Harvey Road and University Drive.

The SH 6 northbound exit ramp to Harvey Road will be closed and traffic wanting to access Harvey Road will be detoured to the SH 30 exit ramp. Additionally, the SH 6 northbound entrance ramp will be closed and traffic wanting to enter SH 6 will have to use the next entrance ramp. These ramp closures allow the contractor to remove the existing ramps and construct new ramps.

The left lane of the SH 6 northbound frontage road will also be closed leaving one lane of traffic between Harvey Road and University Drive. This closure will allow the contractor to begin roadway widening operations for a future auxiliary lane between the two new ramps.

Along with these closures, a construction speed zone will be in place. The speed limit will be reduced to 60 mph within the work area for the SH 6 northbound traffic only.

The closures and speed zone are expected to be in place for approximately three months.

This work is part of the $9.6 million SH 6 Ramps Project that is scheduled to be completed by spring of 2015.

For more information, contact TxDOT Public Information Officer Bob Colwell at 979-778-9764.

– Public Communications Office

Five things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

gavel[1]The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (6 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch:

  1. Rental Registration Changes: In the workshop, the council will discuss recommended changes to the rental registration program and related code enforcement efforts. This is not a public hearing and the council will not vote on the proposed changes. For more detail on the recommendations, see pages 9-14 of the workshop packet.
  2. Free Parking on Boyett Street: The council will consider establishing four free parking spaces on the west side of Boyett from Patricia Street to Church Avenue, which would bring to 17 the total number of free on-street parking spaces in the Northgate District.
  3. Water Conservation Grant: The council will consider an inter-local agreement that includes a $57,500 grant from the Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District to create a system to help residents avoid overwatering their landscapes and lawns. The system would include a weather station and rain gauges that auto-report to a database and website created by Texas A&M Agri-Life.
  4. Emergency Management Plan: The council will consider approving the 2014 Emergency Management Plan, which outlines the approach of local government entities to emergency operations and provides general guidance for emergency management activities.
  5. Budget Amendment No. 3: After a public hearing, the council will consider amending the Fiscal Year 2014 budget to provide $46,327 in additional hotel tax funds for the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau’s grant program.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Ch. 19, or online. Previous council meetings are archived on the website. A detailed live blog from the meetings will be posted on this site and also can be accessed through the city’s Facebook page.

Related links:

Colin Killian
Colin Killian | Communications & Marketing Specialist

How the revised soliciation ordinance will make you safer

799602_f52011The College Station City Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve changes to the city’s current solicitation ordinance and to address aggressive solicitation.

During his council presentation, Assistant Police Chief Billy Couch noted increases each year in the number of police calls related to aggressive solicitation. This steady increase, combined with concerns from our citizens, prompted the need for tougher restrictions on solicitation. We believe the changes will help protect citizens from solicitors who use aggressive tactics in neighborhoods and in public places.

Here’s the PowerPoint presented to the council:


Highlights of the revised ordinance

The primary purpose of this ordinance obviously is to ensure our citizens’ health, safety and welfare. That will be accomplished by:

  • Prohibiting door-to-door home solicitation during times when such activity is most intrusive and disruptive to your privacy and the security of your home.
  • Regulating the manner in which door-to-door solicitation activity may occur to protect you from aggressive and intimidating practices.
  • Requiring home solicitors to register with the City of College Station to obtain and conspicuously display city-issued identification badges while soliciting to minimize deceptive practices and fraud, and to aid law enforcement in crime detection.

CSPD to be more involved, exceptions defined

The permitting process for solicitation will transition from our Fiscal Services Department to the College Station Police Department, which will improve the way we conduct background checks on each applicant. Those with criminal histories will be denied permits. The cost to obtain a 30-day permit will also increase from $25 to $50 per organization.

In addition, there will now be a maximum fine of $500 if companies are caught violating the ordinance. Exceptions are made for political campaigning and charitable, religious and education purposes. These groups will still be allowed to go door-to-door, but must obtain a permit like other organizations, although the fee will be waived. The ordinance also covers aggressive solicitation within 25 feet of public places such banks, ATMs, gas stations, crosswalks, entrancesand exits to restaurants, and on buses and at bus stops.

More changes

It’s unlawful for anyone 14 years of age or older to solicit, unrequested, an occupant of residential premises:

  • Without first registering and obtaining an identification badge issued by the city.
  • Except between the hours of 9 a.m. and a half-hour after sunset.
  • On any federal holiday.
  • If the residence conspicuously displays at or near its primary entrance a legible sign bearing any of these words: NO TRESPASSING/NO PEDDLERS/NO ADVERTISEMENTS/NO SOLICITATION/NO HANDBILLS.

Still more changes

  • Solicitation can only occur at the primary entrance to your residence.
  • Solicitors cannot go to back doors or windows of a residence to determine if anyone is in your residence.
  • It is unlawful for the registrant to allow any other person to use or wear their city-issued identification badge.

Our outreach will continue

Police personnel plan to visit with neighborhood and HOA representatives in the next few weeks to talk more in-depth about changes to the solicitation ordinance. With these tighter regulations, we believe it will help keep you safer and promote sound solicitation practices in our city.

Click here for the workshop meeting agenda containing the entire sections that changed within the ordinance.

Barbara Moore
 
 
Barbara Moore | Neighborhood Services Coordinator

 

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