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Ottertail considering MIR3 notification system

Continuing with research into what the best emergency notification system would be for the city, members of the Ottertail City Council heard a presentation on the MIR3 system at the July 21 meeting.

Tim Brand, Otter Tail County's information technology director, was on-hand to discuss the MIR3 system with the council.

"It is an intelligent notification system," Brand said of MIR3. "I hesitate to call it an emergency notification system, because it doesn't have to be used just for emergencies."

Otter Tail County recently upgraded its system at a cost of $28,000. The county currently uses the MIR3 for a variety of purposes. For example, in the law enforcement sector, the county uses it with the SWAT team and dive team. The public health team uses it, as well as the county's emergency response team.

"You can contact people by any electronic means--phone, cell phone, text, pager, email," Brand told the council. Many communities even use MIR3 to send out their water bills through this system using email, he said.

The cities of Pelican Rapids and Fergus Falls are on the system. The Perham hospital and Lake Region Hospital also use MIR3.

"They like it for staffing purposes," Brand explained. "If they have a weather emergency or a sickness or something, they can use it to notify their staff."

Once the staff is notified, the person who sent out the broadcast can see immediately what the response is from the individuals notified.

If the city joined the county's MIR3 system, Brand estimated Ottertail's base price to be about $750. This would be an annual fee, he said.

The city would then be charged an additional $100 per initiator and an additional $1 per person they put on the system. There is also a charge of five cents per minute for phone calls. These calls can be interactive.

Council member Heather Rosenthal asked Brand how quickly the system could be implemented in the city.

"I'd like to get together and start planning a page soon," Brand said. He said it would be a good idea to start with setting up the council members on the system.

When asked how the MIR3 compared to sirens for weather alerts, Brand said dispatch would prefer that cities use sirens for weather emergency notifications. However, the MIR3 is a desirable option for cities with limited budgets.

"Cost-wise, this is relatively inexpensive," Brand said of the MIR3 system. "You could start with this and see how it works."

"We're looking at approximately $1,350 if we have two initiators," said council member Mike Windey. Installing sirens would be several times as expensive, according to some of the previous research the city has conducted regarding sirens as an option for Ottertail.

The biggest problem Brand said he sees with MIR3 is that as people move out of town or pass on, they're still in the database. This is hard to keep track of, and unless these individuals get removed from the database, the city will still be charged for notifying them.

In order to discuss the MIR3 system in more detail, Brand said he would like to set up a meeting with council members within the next few weeks. A motion was passed to have the city's emergency management committee continue to pursue the possibility of Ottertail adopting this system.

Ottertail event dates set

In other Ottertail news, Monday, August 8 is the date that has been selected for the Summer Ball Night End of the Year Party. Jan Cordes told the council that the fun night for kids involved in the program would be held at Thumper Pond from 5-8:30 p.m.

"She seems to get a great bunch of kids every year. It's really wonderful what she does," said Lee Sherman, Ottertail maintenance supervisor.

Also mentioned was the Family Fun Circus that is coming to town in August.

"It's a one-show only circus," said Elaine Hanson, city clerk/treasurer. According to her research, the circus troupe is based out of Texas.

A representative from the circus was asked to fill out an event permit for the city's records. Initially, Hanson said she was asked if the circus could be held on city property where the tractor pull is held. However, it was later decided that they would hold the circus on private property.

The big top circus show will be held on Wednesday, August 3 at 7 p.m., behind the Geo Direct building off of Highway 108. The cost is $10 per adult ticket, plus two children admitted for free. Doors open one hour before show time. Advanced tickets will be on sale at the circus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A free petting zoo will also be set up.