Consolidation waits on reply from towns
By Karen Hall
When the E911 Board held their monthly meeting this week, consolidation of dispatching services was a hot topic of discussion.
The towns of Chapel Hill and Cornersville still have two weeks before their time is up to give a reply as to whether they are in or out.
"I met with Chapel Hill about consolidation," reported Emergency Management Agency Director Bob Hopkins. "The first thing they did was complain about the cost! They were receptive and asked a few questions. I tried as best I could to explain the advantages of centralized dispatch. The police chief didn't say anything."
"Have you heard from Cornersville?" asked Chairman Chris Gilbert.
"Only what was in the paper -- that they would try to negotiate," said Hopkins.
"I told him (Town Administrator Taylor Brandon) the formulas that make it fair," said Lewisburg Fire Chief Larry Williams. "Taylor said he would try to get the commission to give them a break on it."
"Are we going ahead to try to consolidate?" asked Sheriff Norman Dalton. "For the safety of the citizens of Marshall County, I think we need to consolidate. Chapel Hill and Cornersville need to decide. This has been going on for five years! I think we need to make a move."
"We're looking at making the service a lot better," said Gilbert. "We need the municipalities to step up and pay their part."
"It's a whole lot less than if they had to dispatch their own," Williams pointed out.
"Maybe it's time to have a meeting with all of them" not just the mayors and city managers, said the 911 Board's legal advisor Cecilia Spivy.
"I think we ought to set up a special meeting between our 911 board and each entity," said Williams. "We could share everything with them and discuss consolidation and why it's important."
"I think they all ought to be in the same room at the same time," agreed Spivy.
Williams was not sure this was a good idea.
"We're not going to get it done if you have too many people in the room," he said.
"Have the county commission and the city council decided?" asked Gilbert.
"No," replied Lewisburg City Manager Randall Dunn.
"Let's send a letter asking for their response in two weeks," said board member Joe Rozell.
"We could ask for any concerns they have, so we can address them at our next meeting," added Emergency Medical Service Director Bill Reuter. "Then we could meet with each one of them. They need to man up and do what's best for the citizens."
"We're trying to get you help quicker," agreed Williams.
The new PowerPhone system for emergency dispatch is operational now, and reportedly a great success, and board members unanimously agreed to pay the final bill.