County commissioners approve inmate telephone agreement with Consolidated Telecom Inc.

LEXINGTON — Viewed with skepticism at first, the allowance of Dawson County Jail inmates texting has proven beneficial to inmates and staff alike. The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office appeared during the county commissioners meeting to renew a five year inmate telephone agreement.

Sheriff Ken Moody and Lieutenant Shane Tilson presented the agreement. Tilson said the Sheriff’s Office is interested in renewing a five year contract with Consolidated Telecom, Inc., as they have been happy with their service.

According to their website, “Consolidated Telecom, Inc. (CTEL), based in Irving, Texas and was founded in 1995 by its principles to install and maintain inmate telephone systems and services to local county jail markets. CTEL currently operates inmate telephone systems in a variety of County Jails and Juvenile Detention Centers in the United States.”

The jail has begun hosting emails for inmates, Tilson said. This helps cut down on the amount of physical mail coming into the jail, which historically has been an avenue for contraband.

Consolidated with also be introducing tablets for the inmates which can keep them busy working toward GED’s, job training, etc. The addition of 25 tablets will come as no cost to the jail, Consolidated will pay for it and take commission from their use.

There will also be the addition of three video kiosks, Tilson said.

Back in August, Consolidated introduced devices which gave the inmates the ability to text family, friends, etc. Tilson said he was initially concerned about introducing these devices into the jail, but they have proven beneficial to inmate behavior and for the jail staff.

All texts are monitored by jail staff and the devices can be shut down en masse if there is a security situation. Each text cost inmates 10 cents and around 90,000 texts have been sent by inmates since August.

These devices are again no cost to the jail, Consolidated takes a commission fee. Inmates are responsible for the devices, they sign a contract and can be prosecuted if the device is damaged intentionally.

Inmates can keep the devices in their cells and are allowed to have the jail staff charge them once a day. Tilson said there have been few issues with the inmates having these devices.

Tilson said the Dawson County Jail is only the second jail in the state to implement this.

The contract renewal would extend to June 30, 2025. The commissioners approved the renewal with Consolidated.

The next item of business concerned the setting of a public hearing to continue electing the county surveyor.

Dawson County clerk Karla Zlatkovsky said a new law has recently been put in place which dictates counties need to decide if they will appoint a surveyor or keep it an elected position.

The law was put in place to aid small counties who may not have their own surveyor and utilize one who lives outside of the county.

Dawson County’s surveyor has historically been an elected position, the commissioners said.

The county needs to have a decision made by Feb. 1, 2020, so a public hearing was set for the next meeting, Jan. 15, 2020 at 9 a.m.

During the board of equalization meeting, the commissioners approved tax corrections on parcels owned by,

Asambleas De Dios Filadelfia

Patrick Foulk

Dennis Bockus

Heath and Kayle Weichel

Mark McKeone

Church of Christ, Lexington

City of Cozad

Randy Buettler

The commissioners also approved a motor vehicle exemption for a 2013 Chevrolet Impala which was recently traded for by Goodwill Industries of Greater Nebraska.

Fourth quarter PTO reports were also viewed by the commissioners, no action needed to be taken.

The commissioners then went into executive session with county surveyor Mark Streit to discuss flood plain issues. There was no action taken after the session was adjourned.

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