Jenne named county's E911 coordinator

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

A St. Peter man who keenly knows how Enhanced 911 will benefit Fayette County residents has been chosen as the county’s E911 coordinator.

Steve Knebel, chairman of the county board and the county’s Emergency Telephone Systems Board, announced at Tuesday’s county board meeting that Kevin Jenne had been picked from a field of 21 candidates for the E911 coordinator position.
Knebel also said he’s hopeful that county residents will have the service by the end of next year.
Jenne, who was born and reared in St. Peter, was selected for the position after the ETSB interviewed six finalists.
Knebel said that Jenne will work up to 30 hours a week, and will be paid $17.50 an hour.
“He’s going to use every hour he has for a while,” Knebel said, talking about all of the work that is needed to implement the service.
As its contribution, the city of Vandalia has agreed to house the E911 office. Jenne will work on the second floor of the city’s Public Safety Building, in the room that formerly housed Vandalia Main Street.
Knebel said the ETSB has asked Jenne to be available in the E911 office at least a couple of days each week.
Knebel said Jenne was a good choice for the post based on his experience.
“Kevin has a good background, with his work for various police agencies in the area and with the (St. Peter) Fire Department,” Knebel said.
“He also has been working as a dispatcher, which has made him familiar with how that aspect of emergency services operates,” he said.
Jenne, 36, has been a member of the St. Peter Fire Department for 11 years, and has served as the SPFD chief for about seven years.
He became a village police officer in 2002, and served as the police chief for about eight years, a tenure that ended when the village board disbanded the police department.
Jenne has also worked with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office part-time since 1998, and has worked as a dispatcher with that agency for about two years.
His experience in emergency services also includes two years with the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office.
With all of that experience, it’s easy to see why Jenne is a proponent of Enhanced 911 and how much it can help county residents.
“I’ve been interested in (getting Enhanced) 911 before it started going,” Jenne said. “I’ve seen how much it’s needed, I know how much it’s needed.
He can easily remember instances where not having E911 service has greatly delayed the arrival of personnel getting to the scene of an emergency.
“A lot of times, we (SFPD firefighters) may know where we’re going when the dispatcher says the name, but if you go by the directions that are given you, those can take you miles out the way.
“I know that on one of our First Responder calls, it took an ambulance service 40 minutes to get there,” he said.
Jenne also said that he’s seen the E911 system being used.
“Working with the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office for two years, where it’s up and going, I’ve seen how easy it is to find addresses when you need to in a hurry,” he said.
At the November 2008 general election, county residents approved the addition of a $2.75 surcharge to their monthly bills for telephone landline.
One of the first things the ETSB did after its formation was turn to Mike Schabbing, the E911 coordinator for Jasper County, for assistance.
Schabbing has been working with the ETSB throughout the process, and Knebel said on Tuesday that Schabbing will be retained by the ETSB “until Kevin is comfortable in the position.”
Addressing work needed for the implementation of the system was completed in March of this year, and Knebel said that one of Jenne’s first jobs will be checking and verifying addresses.
The ETSB has agreed to retain the numbering system used in rural areas, and part of the work in setting up the system is assigning addresses.
Knebel said on Tuesday that residents should not begin using new addresses “until you get a letter from the committee … and that’s going to be a while.”
He said the next step in the process is buying E911 equipment, and that members of the ETSB will be attending a conference in Springfield in about six weeks to look at what’s available and talk to vendors about purchases.