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State plans to reduce number of 911 centers

By Carol McIntire

The buzzword in Columbus the last couple years under Governor Kasich’s administration is trickling down to counties, cities and villages.

Carroll County Commissioner Robert “Bob” Wirkner said the word is “regionalization” and outlined how one of those plans could involve Carroll County in the not-so-distant future.

Wirkner said the state is forming a plan to reduce the number of Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP)s (in this case 911 dispatch centers) in the state and regionalize them.

“The plan will not affect us immediately because we are the only 911 dispatch center in Carroll County,” Wirkner stated. “In this case our PSAP will either be gobbled up by a larger entity or we can take the initiative and make arrangements with other entities to join us so we are strong enough to retain the it and the 911 system.”

He said that initiative was discussed at a meeting of the Carroll County 911 committee recently, along with the state’s plans to have a new 911 system known as the “Next Generation” up and running by 2016.

He said it appears funding the 911 system will follow the PSAP regionalization plan, so it is imperative that Carroll County be proactive or it could lose the $90,000 it now receives for wireless cell phones and possibly the funds generated by land line phones.

Currently, the $90,000 the county receives for cell phones is earmarked for the purchase of 911 equipment. However, the landline phone money has been used to pay dispatchers for the Sheriff’s Department. At its highest point, the landline phone funds paid for two dispatchers. With homeowners doing away with landline phones and switching to cell phones, the amount now only pays the wages for one dispatcher.

“We have a lot to lose in this situation,” Wirkner said, “so it behooves us to be proactive and take the initiative to bring others in with us and strengthen our footprint.” He has already spoken with commissioners from another county and is making plans to speak with the sheriff of that county about consolidating services.

Wirkner noted regionalization is already taking place in Stark and Columbiana counties.

“Stark County has already reduced the number of 911 PSAPs and when we contacted Salem to discuss the matter with them, they have joined Columbiana County.

He noted the Sheriff’s Department has already responded to a state survey asking for the number of 911 calls received in 2012 and the footprint (area served) and new “minimum standards” for 911 PSAPS will be in place by Jan. 1, 2014.

“Our job now is to make sure our core operations are sound and we meet those minimum standards so we can position ourselves to be strong enough to stand alone.”

If the county loses the 911 PSAP, Wirkner said the county must still maintain its local dispatch center for non-emergencies, which would create an additional expense since the 911 funds would be gone.

“We are also looking at offering local dispatch services to other communities in the area,” he added.

In other business, commissioners:
-GRANTED a three percent maximum step pay increase for employees at the Department of Job and Family Services (DJFS) as requested by Director Kate Offenberger.

-GRANTED permission for Offenberger to fill one Eligibility/Referral Specialist 1 employee and two Income Maintenance Aide positions at DJFS. Beginning pay rate for the Eligibility/Referral position is $14.07 per hour and the aid positions start at $12.49 per hour.

-ACCEPTED the quote of Loudon Ford of Minerva for the purchase of a 2013 F-150 4x4 truck for the Dog Pound. Cost is $20,898.18 less $7,650 for the trade-in of a 2006 Ranger pickup for a net cost of $12,855,18. Commissioners noted they did not have to accept bids for the truck because the state increased the threshold for bids to $30,000.

-APPOINTED Paul Warstler of East Sparta the county’s apiary (bee) inspector for 2013 at a pay raet of $8 per hour.

-APPROVED a three-year contract with the accounting firm of Julian and Grube to compile the county’s financial statements into a reportable form at a cost of $18,900 each year.

-APPROVED the following Road Use Maintenance Agreements (RUMA):
Chesapeake Exploration to use portions of Pronto Rd. for access to the Bright well site in Loudon Twp.; Perron Rd. for access to the Bryan Shaw well site in Lee Twp., Avon and Pacific roads for the Dean Ott and Donna Ott well sites in Fox and Washington townships; Profit Rd. for the Barbara well site in Loudon Twp., Lemon and Lilly roads for the Bowling well site in Brown Twp. and Knight Rd. for the Whitacre well site in Brown Twp.

They also signed RUMAs with Utica East Ohio Midstream to use a portion of Marble Rd. for access to the TOP pipeline in East Twp. and with R.E. Gas Development (Rex Energy) for use of Cobbler, Channel and Mark roads for access to the Ocel well site in Washington Twp.

-RE-APPOINTED Brian McIntire to the Client Complaint Review Committee for a term ending Feb. 2, 2016.

-RESCINDED a motion to appoint Commissioner Jeff Ohler to the Multi County Juvenile Attention System Board of Directors and Tom Wheaton as alternate and agreed to make the appointment April 1 to fall into line with the Multi County Board’s reorganization.

-AGREED to add $17,000 to Sheriff Dale Williams budget for fuel and repairs to vehicles and to pay $6,097 for the purchase of 24 bulletproof vests. The commissioners will transfer the money from their budget.

-RECEIVED the weekly dog pound report showing 11 dogs impounded, seven tagged and three redeemed. There was one citation issued to the owner of a dog running at large. 

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