The Beacon News

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December 11, 2008

Mercer County seeks mutual aid agreements with area industry

The countywide emergency training exercise held last month taught Mercer County’s emergency responders some valuable lessons in communication.

At last Wednesday’s Mercer County Commission meeting, the commission applied some of those lessons, and agreed to request mutual aid agreements with Basin Electric Cooperative’s Dakota Gasification Company, Leland Olds Station and Antelope Valley Station; Coyote Station; Dakota Westmoreland Mine; Coteau Mine and Great River Energy’s Stanton Station.

According to Mercer County Emergency Manager Richard Sorenson, mutual aid agreements are pre-incident agreements that both parties, or jurisdictions, can rely on one another for whatever personnel and resources agreed upon in times of need. Those times of need would be during an emergency situation that exceeds one or the other parties’ capabilities and expertise, Sorenson said.

"If we have an emergency and can’t handle it ourselves, we’ll need (industries’) support," Commissioner Wayne Entze said.

The aid agreements also eliminate some liability issues and may open funding avenues such as increased FEMA assistance. No mutual agreements exist between the county and industry at the present time.

The commission also held the first reading of a smattering of proposed employee policy revisions, which were distributed to each county employee.

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