(12/21/2003)
"We're moving ahead to upgrade Calhoun Control," said 911 Advisory Board chairman Jerry Riggs, including reducing the 911 debt and moving the center to a new building.

The advisory group met with Calhoun Commissioners Bob Weaver and Rick Sampson, and County Clerk Richard Kirby last Thursday.

Weaver presented the ups and downs of trying to upgrade emergency services in the county, abandoning the idea of having a larger Emergency Services Center.

Calhoun Clerk Richard Kirby outlined in detail the financial problems during a special meeting held at the courthouse.

The advisory group will make a recommendation to the Calhoun Commission in January to use part of $70,000 in grant money to pay-off a $47,000 debt incurred when 911 purchased new equipment and began E-911 mapping and addressing.

The debt load has been draining the 911 budget of money needed to operate the system, said Riggs. "We need to get rid of the debt," he said.

The group is also recommending the construction of an approved concrete block building on a site donated by the Calhoun Board of Education, where the center will eventually be located. The site is near the new Board of Education office and bus garage behind Calhoun Middle/High School.

911 Director Joe Tanner said he is looking forward to placing the center in a new building, and continuing to upgrade the system to E-911 standards.

Calhoun Control 911 is now located in a building that does not meet standards.

Tanner told the advisory board the State of West Virginia has taken over the development of mapping and addressing in the state, using funds given back to the state by Verizon. "They expect to have the whole state up and running no later than 2007," he said.

Calhoun has been moving ahead with an addressing system that appears to be compatible with the state standards.

Tanner said with current grant money, in addition to obtaining another $50,000 through the efforts of Del. Bill Stemple "911 service is stabilized without raising fees, and construction of a new building can begin." E-911 funding is separate from the Emergency Services Levy.

The proposals will be placed before the county commissioners for further scrutiny and possibly a vote at the January meeting.

Calhoun's emergency ambulance service will be looking at upgrading the current building at Mt, Zion, or possibly looking for another location to house the ambulance and squad.

EMS Director Josh Johnson said the the ambulance service will not be asking for any additional money from the taxpayers when the Emergency Services Levy is up for a vote in March.

The Emergency Services Levy helps pay for county ambulance service, including the maintenance of a station at Minnora, operation of the county's three fire departments, the employment of a deputy sheriff and a small allocation for the Office of Emergency Services.

Riggs said the renewal of the levy is essential to the continuation of present services.


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