Durbin Visits SouthCom

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Senator Dick Durbin tours SouthCom Dispatch in Matteson. (Photo: VOPF)

Senator meets with local officials and tours dispatch center

Matteson, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Village Officials met with United States Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) Saturday, March 29th at SouthCom Emergency Dispatch Center in Matteson. The meeting was a follow up to an earlier March meeting to discuss additional funding for the dispatch hub.

Park Forest Trustees Bonita Dillard, Mae Brandon and Gary Kopycinski were joined by Village Manager Tom Mick for the round table discussion. Also in attendance were State Representative Al Riley (38th District) and mayors and officials from Matteson, Richton Park and Olympia Fields.

Officials presented Senator Durbin with a draft of a joint Op-Ed piece mayors of the four towns are preparing for release to the Chicagolan media. The letter asks that congressional appropriated earmarks be directed to Park Forest, Matteson, Richton Park and Olympia Fields. The letter says, in part, "Earmarking has greatly assisted us in addressing our local infrastructure, public safety and economic development needs while at the same time enabling us to keep a lid on property taxes." The mayors continue, "Many of these projects are beyond the fiduciary capacity of our annual budgets and would be impossible to achieve but for federal intervention and support."

Senator Durbin was receptive.

“The money we bring back from Washington for projects important to our communities is money that does not have to be raised by property taxes. If we are to turn away this federal money, it’s going to be at the expense of important services and important things for economic development and more pressure on property taxes, and that’s the last thing we want. Bring it on home," he said.

Durbin was emphatic that Illinois should receive its fair share, “It really irks me. I’m the first senator on the Appropriations Committee from Illinois in over 36 years. It’s been 36 years since Illinois had a senator on the Appropriations Committee. And new we get there, and they say, ‘Well, incidentally, bringing the money back to Illinois is a bad idea.’ The hell it is!”

Senator Durbin at SouthCom

Senator Durbin with State Rep. Al Riley, Trustee Mae Brandon and Village Manager Tom Mick. (Photo: VOPF)

Durbin said now that he’s on the Appropriations Committee, he gets many requests from all over the state. “And that’s fine. That’s what I’m here for. I can’t help everybody, but I’ll try to help as many as I can.”

“My point of view is, as long as it’s completely transparent, as long as you’re ready to stand up and defend it, and as long as you make full disclosure from start to finish, there’s no conflict of interest, there’s nothing wrong with this.”

Officials accompanied Senator Durbin on a bus tour of areas of each of the four communities to demonstrate the difficulties faced in drawing Class "A" retail.

Ron Bonneau, Executive Director of SouthCom, presented to Senator Durbin the current operation of SouthCom while explaining advances in technology that would increase the effectiveness of the emergency dispatching center. Bonneau and local officials hope that a grant can provide the necessary funding for technological upgrades that would include enhanced computer-aided dispatch, IP-based 911 equipment and an IP based broadband network.

SouthCom is a combined emergency dispatch center for the Villages of Matteson, Richton Park, Olympia Fields and Park Forest. The center handles more than 100,000 emergency calls per year while serving a population of 65,000 residents.