The election for the Phelps County Emergency Services Board (PCESB) next week will feature a three-way race for two open seats in District One of the county, but no candidates have filed for two open seats in District Two.
Steve Zap and Stoney Byrne, both incumbents, along with Randy Barr will face off against each other in the April 2 election.
Since no candidates filed in District Two, the candidates will be chosen by write-in votes. Current board member Carl Collet and Pam Grow did not file for re-election in District Two.
The two members elected in each district will each serve a four-year term.
Barr, Byrne and Zap all responded to questionnaires by The Rolla Daily News about why they are running and their answers are below:
1. Briefly describe your background, including education, work experience, organizations you are or have been involved in, previous public service experience, family or other related information.
Barr: “My name is Randy Barr. I live in the Rolla area with my wife Debbie. We have been married 35 years and have 1 son Kevin. Kevin is married to Danielle and they have 2 children Zoey and Ethan. I have just recently retired from the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department and the 25th Judicial Circuit Court. I served the people of Phelps County for about 20 years in that position and also 3 years as Police Chief for the City of Newburg. I also was a volunteer for the Rolla Rural Fire Department and the Edgar Springs Fire Department. Now that I have retired I have time to pursue my other interests like playing golf and spending time at home with the grandkids.”
Byrne:“I have been married to my wife Shelley for over 43 years and raised four outstanding children and have eight wonderful grandchildren. I came to Fort Leonard Wood after my second tour in Vietnam and have been part of the Rolla community since. I attended Central Texas College through the Education Center at Ft. Wood from 1970-73 and studied business administration. I’m a life member of both The Disabled American Veterans and The Military Order of the Purple Heart. I was employed in the mid-70s by the Rolla Police Department as an officer. I was a volunteer firefighter and chairman of the Board of the Rolla Rural Fire Department for a total of 34 years. I was past president of the Rolla Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors and current member. I’m a current member of Phelps for the Fort and current president (fifth time) of the South Central United Way and have been on that board since 1997. I am a past carnival chairman of The Rolla Lions Club. This is my 25th year at Jenks/Long Insurance and my 30th year in the insurance industry. I was the Phelps County Emergency Manager appointed by The County Commission. I am a life member of the NRA too.
Page 2 of 3 - Zap: “I came to Missouri from Texas in 1973 to attend college. I graduated from the School of the Ozarks in Branson in 1978 with bachelor degrees in biology and criminal justice. I spent one year as a police officer in Branson and in 1979 was hired by the Missouri Department of Conservation as a conservation agent. In July of 1979 I was assigned to be the conservation agent in Phelps County, a position I held until I retired in November of 2007. I have been a member of both the Rolla Lions Club and the Rolla Noon Kiwanis Club where I served one year as president. For the past 4 years I have been a member and currently serve as chairman of the Phelps County Law Enforcement Restitution Fund board. I have been a member of the Phelps County Emergency Services Board since its creation in 2010 and for the last two years have served as the board secretary. I have been married to my wife, Joanne, for 35 years. We have one daughter. We have called Rolla home since July of 1979 and own a home and 10 acres south of Rolla in the Vida area.”
2. Why are you running for this office?
Barr: “I am running for this office as a way to continue to serve the people of Phelps County. Since I am retired and this is a voluntary position I will have time to devote to this position.”
Byrne: “I’m running for this office to further the continued progress we have made.”
Zap: “I have been a member of the emergency services board since its inception. I feel that the work the board does is important and that my past work experience allows me to make a positive contribution. I also feel that the board is comprised of an excellent group of sincere and dedicated members who I have enjoyed working with very much. That is why I am seeking re-election to the board.”
3. How do you differ from your opponent(s)?
Barr: “The thing that stands out the most between me and my opponents is I have worked with the emergency services for several years. When I first started with the sheriff’s department as a dispatcher we answered the old 911 line. On those calls we had to get a location from the caller. Now it is enhanced and all that info pops up on the computer screen. I have answered the calls and responded to the calls. I have been involved in all aspects of the emergency system.”
Byrne: “I’m different from my opponent (Barr) because I’ve been on this board since its inception along with Steve Zap and I have no agenda other than to further the aims and goals we’ve started.”
Page 3 of 3 - Zap: “In my career as a conservation agent I patrolled all of Phelps County. I had contact with central dispatch on a regular basis. I understand the communication problems that exist when covering an area as large as Phelps County, where radio reception is good and where it is almost non-existent, where emergency services workers are close to help and where they are isolated, etc. I understand how critically important good communication can be to both emergency services employees and the citizens of the county. I believe my knowledge of Phelps County along with my experience working with central communication on a regular basis, but not being an employee of either the sheriff’s office or Rolla police gives me a unique perspective that I can bring to the board. I also have the experience of being on the board since its inception spending two years as secretary. I know the past decisions the board has made and the issues it is currently facing.”
4. What do you think are the most important issues facing the Phelps County Emergency Services Board?
Barr: “One of the most important issues is keeping everything up to date from the equipment to the addresses.”
Byrne: “We have a few things to consider but the main item is to continue to support the central communications/dispatch, making sure the first responders have very little or no problems transmitting/receiving.”
Zap: “I believe the most important issue facing the board is having adequate funding on hand for future equipment replacement and upgrades. While the 911 sales tax provides adequately for the daily operation of the communication center, the board must constantly find ways to set aside funds to provide up-to-date, properly operating communication equipment. The challenge of providing the best emergency services response for the citizens of Phelps County both now and in the future will be dependent on these decisions.”
5. What, if any, improvements or changes do you think could be made to emergency services in Phelps County?
Barr: “At one time, one of the big problems was radio contact in the whole county. There were places out in the county when you could not talk to the dispatcher on the radio. There were a lot of dead spots out there. But now they are working on that problem and should have it resolved in the near future.”
Byrne: No answer provided.
Zap: “When it comes to emergency services, the citizens of Phelps County find themselves in an enviable position. In Phelps County, the various agencies that provide emergency services cooperate with each other and work extremely well together. They have placed the citizens of the county first, above territorial concerns, power struggles or whatever other things that might cause friction between agencies. Not only is this not the case in many counties around Missouri; it is rare to find this type of cooperation. The one area that the emergency services board needs to work for improvement is in ensuring that every part of Phelps County has the best communication service possible.”