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City provides support to 211 Helpline proposal - Daily Leader Extra : Top Stories

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City provides support to 211 Helpline proposal

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Posted: Monday, February 29, 2016 7:44 pm

The city commissioners provided their approval on Monday to a proposal from local United Way representatives to create a 211 Helpline for Madison residents, but full approval for the project will depend on the response from the Lake County Commission.

Rob Buchholtz, president of Interlakes Area United Way, and Doug Huntrods, county emergency management director, presented the proposal for establishing a 211 Helpline for Lake County similar to Helplines currently operating in five South Dakota communities and three counties in the state.

Betsy Holman was scheduled to help with the presentation to the Madison City Commission but she canceled her appearance due to bad weather.

The 211 Helpline operates as a 24/7 phone database that is staffed by live operators who assist callers with information about nonprofit, community assistance organizations. As examples, the operators can assist callers with information about emergency agencies in the event of a natural disaster or mental-health services for any callers contemplating suicide.

Buchholtz told the city commissioners that it would take about 90 days for organizers to put together a 211 system for Lake County, making July 1 the earliest date for the system’s operation.

The cost for operating a 211 Helpline amounts to 65 cents per county resident, based on the most recent population census. Since any Lake County system would start operations halfway through 2016, Helpline would prorate the expense at about $5,107 (a $1,000 start-up fee and $4,107.35 in costs). For the first year, local United Way officials are asking Madison and Lake County officials to provide $1,000 each from the city and county, and the IAUW will pay the remaining expense of $3,107.

IAUW would eventually turn over the financial responsibility for funding the 211 Helpline to the city and county, but local United Way officials have offered to assist the local governments with a smaller, second-year contribution in 2017.

The city commissioners approved a city contribution of $1,000 to the 211 Helpline project contingent upon Lake County officials also approving the proposal.