Northampton moves phone system

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 7, 2006

JACKSON – Northampton County Commissioners took necessary steps to ensure more safety for their citizens Monday morning.

The board, meeting in regular session, voted unanimously to spend slightly more than $37,500 to move the telephone system in the county to the 911 Communications Building.

Finance Officer Dot Vick came to the board to request the move based on numerous problems with the system currently located at the Department of Social Services building.

The telephone system currently used in Northampton County was installed in 2003-2004 at the DSS building and at the remote campus in the Data Process Building.

Since that time, the system has experienced several lightning strikes, rendering it useless until repairs could be made.

“This has resulted in the county telephone system being out of use for many hours and numerous telephone sets being replaced,” Vick wrote in her memo to the board.

Vick said county staff had worked diligently to eliminate the problem, but had done so without much success.

“It takes a lot for me to panic, but when the telephone system goes down, I panic,” Vick said. “When you have a situation where citizens cannot reach the Sheriff’s Department or protective services, that’s not a good situation.”

Vick said the county had replaced approximately 46 telephones and had been reimbursed almost $10,000 for damages because of the lightning strikes.

She said there was nowhere the funds could come from except contingency, but said she felt it would still leave the board in sound financial condition for that fund.

Her request to the board was supported by Building and Grounds Supervisor Anthony Wheeler, E-911 Coordinator Ronnie Storey Jr. and County Manager Wayne Jenkins.

Jenkins explained moving the telephones could stop the lightning strikes, which would be beneficial.

Commissioner Robert V. Carter (D-4th) asked if Homeland Security funding could be sought for the move, but Jenkins said they could not.

The manager added, however, that once the telephone system was in a stable location, funds could be sought from Homeland Security to provide security measures with which the telephones are already equipped.

Commissioner James C. Boone (D-3rd) said he thought the idea was a good one and made the motion to proceed with relocation of the system. Commissioner Fannie P. Greene (D-5th) offered the second. It passed on a 4-0 with Commission Chairwoman Virginia D. Spruill (D-2nd) and Carter joining those who made the motion in voting for the proposal. Commissioner James Hester (D-1st) was not present.