E-911 Center opening delayed

Published 9:53 am Tuesday, June 14, 2016

WINTON – The delay in opening Hertford County’s new E-911 and Emergency Operations Center comes with a slight twist.

The opening, now expected to occur on July 12, comes after the start of the county’s new budget year (July 1). That means the current means of dispatching emergency responders in the county will remain at the three established dispatch points: the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office and the police departments in Ahoskie and Murfreesboro until July 11.

“The contractor is not substantially complete with the E-911 Center at this point and that pushed our cut-over date (when all three of the dispatch entities mentioned above become one operational unit) by 30-to-45 days past where we thought we would be,” County Manager Loria Williams explained to the Hertford County Board of Commissioners at their regularly scheduled meeting on June 6.

Williams noted that the contractor, Cadet Construction Company of Raleigh, had previously been given an extension to complete the project.

“We can have a cut-over date as late as Aug. 31, as approved by our E-911 Governance Board, but our date is scheduled for July 12,” she stressed. “We’re not going to move that date; we feel confident that all the vendors – computer software, telephone and radio vendors – are lined up to meet that date.”

However, the delay means that E-911 dispatchers currently employed by the municipalities of Ahoskie and Murfreesboro who have agreed to come onboard as county employees will remain with their current employers until July 11.

“The towns, based on what I advised and what the construction contract had originally called for as a project completion date, have not budgeted any money for their E-911 dispatchers effective July 1 of this year because at that time those individuals were scheduled to become Hertford County paid employees and start work at our new E-911 Center,” Williams remarked.

Williams, however, was able to work things out.

“What they (the towns) agreed to do was for the first few days of July, those individuals will be county employees, but they will be dispatching from their respective offices in Murfreesboro and Ahoskie,” Williams told the commissioners. “They will still be technically our employees, but just working elsewhere until we can flip the switch and have our new E-911 Center operational on July 12. That way we can all hold to contract, the inter-local agreement the county and the two towns signed at the outset of this project well over a year ago. Doing it this way will not upset the new fiscal year budgets of Ahoskie and Murfreesboro.”

Williams said Hertford County’s new fiscal year financial spreadsheet has the salaries budgeted for all dispatchers effective July 1.

“It’s of no consequence to our budget because those salaries are already included,” she added.

Williams later told the News-Herald that the delay in the “cut-over” date impacts six dispatchers – three each in Ahoskie and Murfreesboro. Once the new E-911 Center opens, those six will be joined by four dispatchers who are currently employed by the county. The budget allows for 12 employees in the E-911 Center, so there are currently two vacancies to fill.

The $2,636,000 E-911 and Emergency Operations Center is 100 percent grant funded by the North Carolina E-911 Board. The building, located directly behind the county’s new courthouse, will consist of 10,124 gross square feet, to include room to allow for as many as four emergency services dispatchers 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.

The Center is expected to streamline the county’s processing of emergency calls and enable more efficient responses and will also expedite emergency response times by cutting down on call transfers and facilitating use of the same dispatch and mapping technology by all emergency responders.

The emergency operations center will serve as a virtually apocalypse-proof hub for emergency personnel to manage their efforts in the event of a disaster.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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