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Dispatchers retained as patrol clerks

West Fargo City Commissioners agreed unanimously Monday night to retain five employees from the dispatch staff, who will now be referred to with a new title of police clerks. Police Chief Arland Rasmussen made the request as a result of the City joining the Red River Regional Dispatch Center, that coordinates 911 calls for cities in Cass and Clay counties, a decision approved last November.

Rasmussen said accomplishing this would make the transition to RRRDC as easy as possible and ensure continued excellent service to the public, as well as support to the police officers.

The five staff members retained are Phil Roquette, Pam Cota, Tracy Haugen, Toshia Shaw, and Brandie Dixon.

The clerks will staff the office from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and be responsible for a variety of duties, including assisting walk-in traffic with answering questions, paying fines, issuing cat and dog licenses, fingerprinting residents because of employment requirements, assisting with court-related activities, etc.

The scheduling will also allow time for clerks to update police officers on what has been happening and what needs dealing with.

Rasmussen estimated the City would be saving approximately $141,000 with this action and the move to the RRRDC. "I think that's the goal, to save money, and I think we'll be able to save additional money in the long run," mentioning equipment and technology upgrades.

Rasmussen said those involved are now looking at a mid-February time frame for the switchover to the RRRDC to be complete.

The Commission also approved a request from Rasmussen to change the title of West Fargo Police Department Captain Mike Reitan to Assistant Chief. Reitan has been second in command since 2005.

Rasmussen said the change would be a good move for clarification purposes and would not involve any salary change. "People often call and ask for the assistant chief and do not know if there is someone above captain, or if he is actually the second in command. Mike does an excellent job and is always a privilege to work with."

Commissioner Mark Simmons also asked fellow Commission members to consider recording City Commission meetings. "We as a city have grown so much. I think it would be much better to have meetings recorded, and we are to the point we need to look into it."

City Commissioner Brenda Warren said she would go along with the recording, and take it a step further to include playback on Cable TV.

City Administrator Jim Brownlee said he would get a cost estimate for equipment and technical areas involved to start the recording process.

In other action, the Commission:

• approved the 2008 contract with the Cass County Vector Control Board for mosquito spraying, with the City agreeing to pay $40,000 to supplement the control efforts by County employees within the City. The City also will pay $2,000 per application for adult mosquito spraying. The contract is the same as last year with the exception of an additional $5,000 request for larviciding. Brownlee said Vector officials are convinced this is a much more effective way of treating the mosquitoes, therefore the reason for the increase. The City has a separate contract for aerial spraying efforts.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 21, in the Commission Chambers at West Fargo City Hall. All meetings are open to the public.