King hits the ground running as 'go-live' date nears for 911 center

Friday, March 27, 2015

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

Members of the county's 911 Board heard about problems old and new at their monthly meeting Wednesday.

The only municipality which has not signed the interlocal agreement to participate in Marshall County's consolidated 911 dispatch service, and paid for their share of it, is Cornersville.

A sticking point seems to be the number of calls received and the amount of money the city would have to contribute to be a part of the project.

"Cornersville is still waiting on information," said board chairman Chris Gilbert.

"They're meeting next Thursday," said Police Chief David McVey, Cornersville's representative on the board.

"They're asking for numbers by Monday; there's still a discrepancy in the call volume."

"We presented numbers," said Lewisburg Fire Chief Larry Williams.

"We're going to have to honor the numbers we presented. Cornersville got lowered and the county and city got increased. I'm not in favor of going back and asking for more money. I support the $16,000 for Cornersville."

"Go back and tell them that's it," Gilbert instructed McVey.

"I'll pass on that information today," agreed McVey.

"I think it'll be a go."

Setting up the 911 consolidated dispatch center at the Marshall County Sheriff's Department in time to "go live" on July 1, is more complicated than it might appear.

Two dispatch consoles now installed at the Lewisburg Police Department have to be moved across the street to MCSD and re-installed there. Timing and efficiency are critical since there can be no loss of 911 service as the transition is made.

Nashville Communications, the current supplier, made a bid to move and upgrade the two consoles and install the third one, but Middle Tennessee Two-Way presented a competing and lower bid, which included three new consoles.

"We have a contract with Nashville Communications," pointed out board attorney Cecilia Spivey.

"If it sounds too good to be true ....," said board member Bob Hopkins, who was director of the county's emergency management agency for many years and has dealt with his share of communications problems.

At previous board meetings Police Chief Chuck Forbis has reported an ongoing struggle with Nashville Communications.

"I haven't been confident with them for a long time," newly appointed 911 center director Joey King said.

Williams refocused the discussion, saying, "If we can go live without losing any time, that's our priority. Let's focus on going live and study this later."

Spivey returned from a trip to her office to get a copy of the Nashville Communications contract and said, "We have a legitimate reason to cancel the contract -- they haven't done what they were supposed to do. We did what they told us, and it still doesn't work!"

"I'd love to hear what Chief (Forbis) has to say," said Hopkins.

"He'll say he turned it all over to Joey (King)" guessed Williams, since Forbis wasn't at the meeting.

"I suggest we move forward and go live with what we've got."

Other board members agreed with him and approved a series of motions to pay for improvements to the phone service for the new center, as well as some remodeling inside the Sheriff's Department.

Spivey is also setting up the mechanism for the 911 Board to employ the dispatchers who will work in the new center.

Among other things, the board has to be approved to join the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System, which includes a fee of over $1,000 for an actuarial study.

King presented the time sheets and salary schedules he proposed to use for the dispatchers to board members and said, "I'd like to have you all's blessing on this so I can tell these people. It shows we're trying to take care of them. It is within the budget -- I just want the board to approve it."

Salaries for those working at the new center will be slightly higher than what the dispatchers are getting now, and the board gave a unanimous voice vote of approval to King's salary schedule.

He reported all the current dispatchers have agreed to make the move to the new center, adding, "They're scared to death right now."

MCSD Chief Deputy Bob Johnson reported the new 911 center has to have its own ORI (Organized Response Information) number, just like all law enforcement agencies have.

There is a fee to pay for this, and it could take as long as 12 weeks to get the number.

"What if we run over the 12 weeks?" asked Williams.

"It may not take that long," said Johnson.

"We've got to have one?" asked Gilbert.

"Yes sir," Johnson replied, and board members chose unanimously to approve going ahead with an application for the number.