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Calm behind the storm

Bertie County Sheriff John Holley stands with the 9-1-1 Communications Center staff that was recently chosen Communications Center of the year. Standing at left are (from bottom) Angela Bond, Wanda Hoggard, Lyntinka Cherry and Alisia Wilkins. On the right side are Supervisor Deanna Cherry (holding the award), Katrina Watson, Audrey Jernigan and Donnette Spivey. Staff Photo by Thadd White

WINDSOR – They are a group that has seen it all.

They’ve led rescue and police efforts through just about every conceivable natural disaster from floods to tornadoes and from earthquakes to snowfall. They are the people, offering a reassuring voice, on the end of the line there is a call for emergency aid.

The fact that the people of Bertie County have been able to always count on their 9-1-1 telecommunications staff is the reason that group was recently recognized as tops in North Carolina for their efforts.

“It’s a great honor,” said Deanna Cherry, the 9-1-1 Center Supervisor. “With the difficulties we’ve had and with only having one person on duty, I think the ladies do an excellent job.

“For us to be honored this way means more than words can say,” she added.

Bertie County was recognized as Communications Center of the Year by the North Carolina Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association. The award is for outstanding professionalism, leadership, innovation and service to the community.

Bertie County Sheriff John Holley said the award was based on call volume as well as how the telecommunicators handled each situation. He said Bertie County answers as many calls as centers that have larger staffs.

“We are definitely honored, especially considering the small amount of staff we have,” he said. “I will say the Bertie County Commissioners are working with us to try to have two people on duty at all times and we’re thankful for that.

“Right now we have one person working (per shift) and they are each doing a fine job,” Holley continued. “I feel that for the size of our center, to handle the volume of calls we receive and do it well is something to be proud of.”

The county was one of several throughout the state that was considered and was chosen as a finalist before being selected for the award.

Along with Cherry, telecommunications staff includes Angela Bond, Wanda Hoggard, Lyntinka Cherry, Alisia Wilkins, Katrina Watson, Audrey Jernigan and Donnette Spivey.