E-911 Dispatch Center

Published 8:05 am Thursday, July 18, 2013

WINTON – The money has been approved, now it’s time to make the project work.

Earlier this month the North Carolina 911 Board unanimously voted to award Hertford County Emergency Services a grant of $4,250,000 for the construction of the county’s PSAP (Public Service Answering Points – combining communications of the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office and the police departments of Ahoskie and Murfreesboro).

At their regular monthly meeting here on Monday night, the Hertford County Commissioners were informed of the grant’s approval and now have begun the task of appointing a governance board to work with the state E-911 Board on the implementation of the project.

“We have a working group that’s been working on this project for quite some time,” said County Manager Loria D. Williams. “The first order of business is to officially set the governance board which will then be charged with holding their organizational meeting and creating their by-laws, and they will serve as an advisory body per the inter-local agreement that was approved by the commissioners as well as the towns of Murfreesboro and Ahoskie for guiding the E-911 consolidated project once it’s formally put on the ground or put into place.”

The governance board will consist of 11 members, 10 of which are civic officials, one county commissioner, and one member-at-large.

Williams continued, “The persons that are submitted, they hold a certain position; so per the inter-local agreement certain representative slots were approved: the police chiefs, the sheriff, representation from each municipality, a representative from the (municipalities’) firemen’s association, and a representative from Ahoskie Rural (Fire Department).

“You all will have to select someone from your membership with which to serve and we need a member-at-large to serve,” she added.

Williams says the composition of the 11-member governance board was agreed upon by the inter-local agencies.

Commissioners Curtis Freeman and Howard Hunter III inquired if the member-at-large position could also be filled by a County Commissioner, in effect placing two commissioners on the governance board, but Williams said no.

“The inter-local agreement states that it was a member-at-large and that was approved by all the bodies and that includes the town of Ahoskie and the town of Murfreesboro agreeing which representative slots would be on this board,” she answered. “So I would not think we would have the authority to change it without the council weighing in on that.”

Williams added, “The member-at-large is like a community member. We could rotate it from time to time. We were trying to get some letters of interest or we had some people like the fire chief checking out some people in the community, but no one got back with me.”

The county manager said she had no recommendation for the member-at-large slot at this time.

The commissioners then caucused amongst themselves before Hunter put Commissioner Ronald Gatling’s name into nomination. Gatling’s nomination was unanimously approved by his fellow commissioners as the tenth member of the governance board.

Despite there still being one unfilled slot on the board, that of member-at-large, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve the other members.

The members of the Hertford County E-911Governance Board are: Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan, Murfreesboro Police Chief Darrell Rowe, Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh, Hertford County Emergency Management Director Chris Smith, Hertford County EMS Director James Broglin, Ahoskie Fire Chief Ken Dilday, Murfreesboro Fire Chief Bryant Cooke, Ahoskie Town Councilman Maurice Vann, Murfreesboro Town Councilwoman Sarah Wallace, and Gatling.

With the funding and a governance board in place, the next step in the process is to hire an architect to design the facility. That design needs the approval of local and state officials. Hopefully by early next year, Hertford County officials will be able to launch the bidding process for construction and begin that phase of the process by late summer 2014. Pending the completion of integration of the communications equipment and the testing of those items, the new E-911 Center may be open and in service by March of 2016.

The Center will consist of 10,124 gross square feet, to include room to allow for as many as four emergency services dispatcher to work at one time. The facility will also include office space for supervisors, break room/kitchen, restrooms, bunk room, lockers, showers, and storage areas.

“This is a county operated center,” Williams noted. “The E-911 Director will report to the County Manager. That means Hertford County’s governing body has most of the responsibility and authority over that person. All of Hertford County’s personnel and travel policies will govern those employed in the E-911 Center.”

Assurance has been given to current dispatchers working the PSAP at the Ahoskie and Murfreesboro police departments that they will be able to carry over their service time to the county if hired to work at the new consolidated E-911 Center.

Once the new consolidated center opens, the salaries/benefits paid to the 12 full-time dispatchers will be covered by the county. Ahoskie and Murfreesboro will each contribute to the salaries and operational costs.