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Private donor to pay $62,000 for Dubois school resource officer

Jul 8, 2015 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The Dubois area is to keep all of its sheriff's officers despite reduced funding for one position in a final budget adopted by Fremont County Commissioners on Tuesday.

Fremont County's communication center also is approved to hire two new dispatchers dedicated to fire and ambulance calls.

Commissioners contemplated cutting one of three patrol deputy positions stationed in the Dubois area from the Fremont County Sheriff's Office budget. It also has a sergeant and a school resource officer at Dubois high school stationed in the area.

"The position that we cut was the school resource officer," commission chairman Doug Thompson said in an interview.

The Dubois school security officer's salary comes from the county. A similar position at Wind River High School in Pavillion is covered by Fremont County School District 6.

Fremont County School District 2 had paid for half of the Dubois High School officer's salary until two years ago, Fremont County undersheriff Ryan Lee said in an interview.

"It's really not fair for us to turn around and provide for it for another school district out of our general fund, because then anyone else could say, 'Well, they're doing it up there, we want one too,'" Thompson said.

Municipal police departments provide all of the other school resource officers in local high schools.

Facing the cut, the sheriff's office found a private donor who agreed to donate the $62,000 necessary to pay for the Dubois school officer allowing the sheriff's office to retain the position. The money would go to the school district, which would in turn reimburse the county.

"We have no intentions of leaving the Dubois school district. We're going to do everything we can ... to make sure that school is fully protected," Lee said.

He declined to say who the donor is.

The final budget also included adding two dispatcher positions after contemplating only adding one at a June meeting. Commissioners also agreed to upgrade a console for the new communications workers.

"The two additional dispatchers will help staff get on a third console, and their primary responsibility will be taking care of fire and EMS calls," Lee said.

The dispatch center currently staffs two consoles at all hours to handle calls from the sheriff's office, Lander Police Department, Fremont County Emergency Medical Services and several local fire departments.

Under a plan being phased in this year, the agencies using the dispatch center are paying for the services. In the past, the county footed most of the bill with help from a few of the organizations it served. Ultimately, money county agencies contribute still comes from county coffers, but the cost is spread out more in the new arrangement.

Officials do not expect the two new positions to cost the dispatch center, however.

"The costs to fund those two positions are passed onto the end users," Lee said.

Two full-time workers cannot cover a console at all hours, but they would work during the busiest times for the communications center, Lee said.

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