Of Curbs and Calls: Minocqua Needs Upgrades To Streets, Dispatch Center

Dec 16, 2017

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MINOCQUA – Minocqua town officials are discussing upgrades to the electronic capabilities of its dispatch center, as well as signing a contract with the state to repair concrete joints and curbs on a large section of U.S. Highway 51 on the Island of Minocqua.

Town chairman Mark Hartzheim said the board met in special session with county emergency management director Ken Kortenhof on Thursday, Dec. 14 about needed upgrades to a system switch that serves the dispatch center in the police department. Frontier Communications will no longer support repairing the switch after July 1, 2018.

The switch takes calls from landlines and transfers them to the dispatch center. “What we are trying to find out is the cost to replace that switch, and what are our options besides Frontier,” said Hartzheim. “We had some initial information that replacing it will be in excess of $100,000.”

Town officials will meet with a company representative to get a better handle on those costs, including for related equipment. Coupled with that development is the state’s push to get municipalities with enhanced 9-1-1 services to upgrade to what’s called Next Generation 9-1-1. Among NexGen 9-1-1 capabilities is the ability for call centers to receive voice and text messages, plus pictures and videos. The upgrade will also allow calls to rollover to a neighboring dispatch center if a particular call center is overwhelmed with emergency calls, such as during a severe storm. 

The town board authorized the town chairman and clerk to sign a contract with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for concrete joint and curb repair of U.S. Highway 51 from the Highway 51 bridge north to near the AmericInn. Then from Lakeshore Drive near Minocqua Brewing Company south to the bridge. Originally scheduled by the state for spring of 2019, there is a chance that the work could be done in spring of 2018, Hartzheim said. The total cost of the proposed project is $622,000, of which the town’s share is $60,000. The town is sharing costs because some of the work is for parking areas along the highway, such as in front of the Methodist Church. The state considers that to be the town’s responsibility as it benefits the town’s parking needs.

Hartzheim said the money would come from the $320,000 that the town has in the 2018 road budget. However, if the town board decides to borrow a large sum of money for road repairs, that cost would be folded into that borrowing