OSCEOLA COUNTY — Courtrooms in Osceola County will soon have the capability of communicating with a prisoner by video during a trial after the Board of Commissioners approved electrical hookup for a video system.

On Tuesday, the board approved funding up to $2,500 for electrical installation necessary to allow the video equipment to function. They also approved amending the county’s Internet contract with Charter Communications to include three IP addresses for the video systems for $17 per month.

The project is part of the Supreme Court Video Project from the state of Michigan. All equipment, labor and installation costs will be covered by the state.

“For the first year, we’re just paying the electrical to get everything hooked up and the additional amount for the Internet IP addresses,” said county coordinator Sue Vanderpol. “After the first year, that’s where a maintenance fee comes in.”

After the electrical work is complete, video cameras and monitors will be installed in the county’s probate, district and circuit courtrooms. The system will allow the courts to use the two-way interactive video technology to conduct a variety of proceedings such as arraignments, recording pleas, sentencing testimonies, between courtrooms and prisons or jails around the country.

“We’re really excited about it. Osceola County is one of the last 20 counties in the state to have this,” said Kaye Frederick, Osceola County circuit court administrator. “Mecosta County already has videos and they love it. They’ve done termination hearings where the father is in jail and they didn’t have to bring him to (the courtroom).”

An additional video unit also may be installed in the county jail, to conduct proceedings with prisoners who are in the jail without having to escort them to the courtroom.

“Mecosta, Missaukee, Clare, Wexford all have (video systems),” said Osceola County jail administrator Russ Wayne at the commission meeting. “We’re one of the biggest jails that doesn’t have them.”

Brad Halladay, of the county’s maintenance department, informed the board that the circuit courtroom would require about $1,000 to hook up power in the correct place for the video system. The district and probate courtrooms are ready for the video system as is.

After the electrical hookup is completed, the video system will be installed by the state. Following the first year or usage, the county will pay an annual fee for software updates and maintenance. The maintenance for the video project will become a new line item in the county’s budget.

Frederick expects the video system to be up and running in the next few months.

In other business, the commissioners heard from a number of Osceola County residents from the northwest quadrant of the county, asking for plans to construct an EMS base in Marion to be stopped and a plan formed to increase service to their area first.

A motion made by Commissioner Tammy Stoner to stop plans to build the base in Marion died due to a tie vote of 3-3. Stoner also made a similar motion at the board’s second meeting in January, which also was defeated.

The next meeting of the Osceola County Board of Commissioners will be at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 19 at the Osceola County Courthouse.