By Ralph Echtinaw
A high-tech traffic ticket system is coming to St. Louis this year after debuting with the county sheriff’s department, Alma Police Department and Breckenridge Police Department four years ago.
The eTicket system has been installed in St. Louis’ three patrol cars all this time but not used. Police Chief Richard J. Ramereiz Jr. said “it was the decision of the St. Louis Police Department to wait and see how well the new software worked and all the issues/problems were worked out of the system. After that, we just did not use the system.”
Ramereiz expects that to change when St. Louis PD takes delivery of two Ford Explorers that will replace two of the current patrol cars this summer. The eTicket system will be activated when equipment is moved from decommissioned patrol cars to the new vehicles.
“I will be looking to start using the system sooner in the third car which is not scheduled to be replaced at this time,” Ramereiz said.
“Once an eTicket is issued, everything is already uploaded into the court system and our system,” Ramereiz said. “So there’s no duplication of re-entering information. It’s already done from the car when the officers issue the citation.”
This is a time-saver for police officers (and for motorists waiting to receive their tickets), as writing tickets is an easier, more streamlined process. Have a look at this 2015 article about eTicket to get a better idea.
Furthermore, with the paper ticket system someone must hand deliver tickets to the courthouse in Ithaca. “Typically, the tickets are taken to the courts on the next business day after a ticket has been issued,” Ramereiz said via email. Not so with eTicket, as the courthouse gets the information at the time the ticket is created.
“We here in Breckenridge have been using it since the beginning and have found it to work very nicely with issuing traffic citations and getting the information to the courts,” said Breckenridge Police Chief James Durham via email. “It also works very nicely with records keeping and tracking tickets once they have been issued. I plan to keep this system in place and moving forward with this technology.”
The Gratiot County Mobile Project began in 2012. It was a countywide project for all law enforcement in Gratiot County. The project funded in-car computers and software for vehicles used by the sheriff’s department and police departments of Alma, Breckenridge and St. Louis. The Software included Core Talon/TIMS incident report management systems, access to the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN), E-Crash traffic crash reporting system and E-Ticket electronic ticket system.
The cost to St. Louis property owners is expected to be $7,111 (paid over three years) and an annual fee of $488.45.
The bathrooms at the W.T. Morris Memorial Swimming Pool will be upgraded this year with new toilets, urinals and plumbing.
City council approved spending up to $30,000 on the job.
Three bids were received, but the lowest is short on details and comes from a contractor that city administrators are unfamiliar with.
The three bids are from Kile Plumbing of Beaverton ($21,000), Pure Plumbing of Farwell ($28,591) and Powell’s Service of St. Louis ($32,860).
“There’s not a lot of detail in (Kile Plumbing’s) quote compared to the other two,” said City Manager Kurt Giles. “It caused a little bit of concern. Everybody looked at the same drawings, the same walk-through and discussions. If we did award to (Kile Plumbing) we would want some kind of assurance about what fixtures we’re talking about. We thought Powell’s Service and Pure Plumbing were in the ballpark.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Melissa Allen said the three bids “are very hard to compare from one to another. There’s $12,000 difference, so you can’t dismiss doing more investigating.”
And that’s exactly what will happen, as council directed Giles to seek more information from Kile Plumbing, then chose the winning bidder himself (so long as it’s for $30,000 or less).
Although Powell’s Service is a St. Louis company, that alone won’t win the bid.“There is, in our purchasing policy, an advantage given to local contractors but it’s only 2 percent and never to exceed $1,500,” Giles said. “We’re somewhere in that ballpark depending on the details of this.”
At the Feb. 5 city council meeting where St. Louis’ financial contribution to the Alma Transit Center’s Dial-a-Ride service was doubled (from $5,000 to $10,000 a year), it was suggested that a countywide millage to support the service should be looked into.
Councilman George Kubin raised the issue again Tuesday, saying, “I’d like to see us pass a resolution or something asking the county to consider putting a millage on the ballot to support countywide transportation.”
Giles said, “I think a resolution would accomplish what you’re talking about.”
Melissa Allen was skeptical of what county officials have told city council about this in the past: “I don’t think we should rely on the parties that come here,” she said. “I just feel like there’s a disconnect from what they tell us here and when they’re at the county meetings.”
Kubin said a resolution calling for a countywide Dial-a-Ride millage proposal would send a message to the county commission: “Then they’ll know we’re serious about it,” he said.
“I agree with you, George,” said Allen.
County Commissioner Jan Bunting, a Republican representing St. Louis, said after the Feb. 5 meeting that she would sample the opinions of residents in her district and see what she can do to push the countywide millage proposal. “I would love to see something happen,” she said via email. “Yes, I will help them.”
County Commissioner Chuck Murphy, a Republican from Alma, opposes the proposed millage. “A countywide Dial-A-Ride program is not workable in a county of our population (about 42,000),” he said via email. “It would be extremely expensive and inefficient.”
Thanks, But No Thanks
Giles relayed a proposal from Bethany Township Supervisor Don Long to share the cost of resurfacing 900 feet of Croswell Road between M-46 and railroad tracks (where Great Lakes Cattle Marketing is located). Croswell is a boundary road between Bethany Township and St. Louis but “not in our street system,” Giles said.
Long said $8,500 would be St. Louis’ share of the job, but Giles called Mark Craft of the Gratiot County Road Commission, who said St. Louis’ share would be more like $17,000.
“I was pretty sure that you’d rather do overlays on our city streets than contribute to that,” Giles told the council.
Allen opined that stockyard semis would be major beneficiaries of such road work, not St. Louis residents.
“So I think I got your consensus by your response there,” Giles said.
Allen thanked Department of Public Works Superintendent Mark Abbott for faithfully attending city council meetings when other department heads usually don’t.