Newton County first responders receive grant money from public safety tax implemented in June of last year

NEOSHO, Mo. — With the holiday just days away, first responders in one area county are giving thanks for what they just have received.

Newton County voters approved a half cent public safety tax measure back in June of 2020. Today, the first round of grant money from that tax was dolled out by Newton County Commissioners. The 911 center is now fully funded by the tax and has been able to add an additional dispatcher among other improvements.

“We’ve improved the communication between the buildings between the Sheriff’s and dispatch, we’ve got several projects in the making, we’re going to replace our emergency generator next year, we’re gonna also replace our battery backup for the Center,” said Chancy Huntzinger, Newton County 911 Director.

“We’ve added some personnel, we’ve added body cameras, car cameras, new portable radios, right now we’re in the process of working with architects to design a new evidence building, something we’re desperately in need of,” said Chris Jennings, Newton County Sheriff.

“We’re looking at buying a sonar unit, a very high end sonar unit for one of our emergency boats so we can find anything under the water very quickly because we do a lot of swift water rescues but we also do a lot of dive rescues,” said Lt. Chris Sloan, Newton County Rescue & Recovery.

This is the first time for the grant presentations, but it’s a process that will be repeated each and every year. Seneca Police Chief James Altic didn’t apply for any of the grant money but says the tax is already helping his department.

“We used to pay somewhere around 22 hundred dollars a month in dispatching fees, so whenever this new process kicked in, it saves 22 hundred dollars a month of tax payer money that goes right back into our police department,” said James Altic, Seneca Police Chief.

County Commissioner Alan Cook explains the criteria for coming up with the grant totals for each agency.

“Through the application process in September and October, when those things came in we looked at them, our criteria was equipment basically, you know no software, we had to decline a couple of requests but everyone that asked got something,” said Alan Cook, District One, Newton County Commission.

In all, commissioners handed out a hundred thousand dollars worth of grants, which they’ll now be doing this time each year.

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