M’boro approves public notification system

Published 11:21 am Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MURFREESBORO — A public notification system by way of Hertford County will be utilized here.

On Tuesday, the Murfreesboro Town Council approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Hertford County to establish responsibilities and procedures to implement the terms of DeltAlert Emergency and Mass Notification System, a Texas-based company that enables users to make time-sensitive announcements to the public.

In December, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners approved a three-year, $14,995 contract with DeltAlert.  DeltAlert can send out mass information by land line telephone, cell phone, text message, fax or e-mail. That information is generated by the user (the county) by uploading a custom audio file; recording a message via telephone; or using DeltAlert’s text-to-speech feature to generate a realistic voice message.

The information can be shared countywide or designated for one specific area if so warranted.

The agreement says DeltAlert can be used “in the event of an emergency to include, but not limited to, preparedness, response and recovery to natural disasters, man-made disasters, acts of terrorism, search and rescue, missing persons, utility restrictions and other special circumstances associated with an emergency. This system may also be used as an emergency notification for employees of delays or cancellations due to weather related incidents.”

According to the MOU, the mass notification system has 150,000 minutes per year plus any unused roll over minutes available from the first and second year. The minutes will be divided the following way: Hertford County Sheriff’s Office and

Hertford County Emergency Management (100,000 minutes), Murfreesboro (25,000 minutes) and Ahoskie (25,000 minutes).

It is noted in the agreement that a department which uses and exceeds all minutes assigned to them will be responsible for paying the overage at 6 cents per minute.

In addition to paying for overage payment, the town will also need to provide any update to E-911 data annually.

Town Administrator Lee Capps said the town would know when they were approaching their allotted minutes.

Councilman Bill Theodorakis had questions about the system, including how many phones were in the Murfreesboro service area, if calls placed for the town would go within the ETJ (extraterritorial jurisdiction), the protocol for using the system and the availability of the minutes.

“I think it’s wonderful, I just want to know how it works,” he said.

Police Capt. Chris Sumner noted some of the department’s employees would receive training for DeltAlert on Friday.

After further discussion, Mayor Pro-Tempore Molly Eubank questioned if there would be a separate line item for overage charges.

“I think it would be advantageous of us to have a separate line item so we can keep abreast of how we’re doing if we go over,” she said.

Eubank made motion to approve the MOU and it was seconded by Councilwoman Sarah Wallace.

Before the motion passed, Theodorakis said he would like to have more information about how the system works as soon as possible.

The motion passed without objection.