David Keck, Fulton County's 9-1-1 coordinator, made his appeal for an enhanced 9-1-1 system to members of the Fulton County Quorum Court at its meeting Jan. 14 where it was recommended a committee review his proposal.
It was decided that a committee comprised of Jim Bicker, Bob Russell and Mel Coleman review Keck's proposal and make recommendations to the court. The committee will study the incoming and outgoing costs of what it would take to operate the enhanced 9-1-1 system.
In November a consulting firm, AK Associates, of New Hampshire, was hired to assess the needs for Fulton County's emergency services. Fulton County Judge Curren Everett said he was impressed with what Keck and Arthur Kraus, with AK Associates had in mind.
According to Keck it will cost Fulton County approximately $180,000 to purchase the equipment to get this operation up and running.
Keck said the fully enhanced system will include a screen that will tell the dispatcher where the call is coming from. A map will appear on the screen and pin-point the call. He added this information will help rescue workers when they are called to an emergency.
He said the system AK Associates proposed they would be cutting out Southwestern Bell, which would save $16,800 annually. This is a network that Kraus helped set up with CenturyTel for Fulton County to use by-passing Southwestern Bell.
Keck said the equipment would have 24-hour repair/replacement guarantee on the equipment. There would be two work stations, the second being a back-up. He said they would have local technical support, and he would also have training which would enable him to do certain things within the system.
Keck said, "This system will work." He said this same system that AK Associates designed for Fulton is being used in St. Augustine, Fla. He said he is willing to drive down there to check it out personally.
To efficiently run this proposed enhanced system an additional three employees would need to be hired at the sheriff's office.
According to Fulton County Sheriff Lloyd Martz, one person can only do so much. He said on the 4 p.m. to midnight shift there is only one dispatcher on duty. Martz said that one employee is responsible for cooking, cleaning, and dispensing medicine. He agreed it would take additional personnel for this operation.
Martz said his focus is on safety. He wants to make sure his office is properly manned if the enhanced 9-1-1 system is approved. He said he wants to have his "ducks in a row. Life is fragile."
It was discussed that Fulton will have to look for funding to try and get an increase in surcharges to fund the proposed enhanced 9-1-1 system. He said an increase in the tariff of 63 cents per month would fund the state of the art enhanced system. It would mean an additional 63 cents to most residents who are already paying 63 cents now, doubling the current cost.
But he said the fact remains that even if Fulton County joined Sharp County in a joint 9-1-1 venture, the combined money they would still need funding to operate the way Sharp County wants them to.
AK Associates recommended that Fulton not enter into a joint operating agreement with Sharp because Kraus said they do not have the hardware and software needed by the sheriff's office, police and fire departments.
In other business the quorum court members voted on and adopted the Fulton County Land Use Plan.The Fulton County Land Use Planning Committee met after the quorum court meeting.
Committee member Mary Rivera said if Fulton doesn't make use of this land plan then they have thrown away a year's worth of work. She said this plan is simply a tool and used to protect the county and their future.