BUCHANAN CALHOUN'S NEW E-911 DIRECTOR - "Facing Challenge With Citizen Help"

Calhoun's new E-911 Director Gary Buchanan says he has his work cut out, saying "We're facing the challenge with the help of Calhoun citizens."

Beyond the normal oversight duties of operating the counties E-911 Center, Buchanan has been designated as the the county's E-911 Addressing and Mapping Coordinator and Flood Plain Coordinator.

Buchanan was off to a flying start last week, attending several days at an E-911 meeting in Charleston.

"One thing I will do, is let the public know the facts about the addressing and mapping process, and keep them informed. We certainly need their cooperation."

"There is a lot of misinformation about the process, and that is something I can help," he said.

The project has faced a number of starts, hurdles and stops over the past several years, including the State of West Virginia taking over the addressing and mapping project and hiring a contractor. That contractor went belly up, and now the work has been shifted back to the counties.

Calhoun, over the years has had volunteer 911 directors. "I'm really grateful for all their efforts and the efforts of volunteers to get the new center built on a very little amount of money at the time," Buchanan said.

"They've made some serious efforts at addressing and mapping, too," he said.

New communications systems and equipment are now in the mix with the creation of a 911 money stream by the state legislature, with each county getting cell phone tax money to bring the systems up to snuff.

"First responders need to be able to communicate with each other," said Buchanan, who says he will make every effort to support them.

Kanawha County officials have been upset that the cell phone tax money has been more equally shared with rural counties, and are continuing efforts to change the legislatures decision.

They have enlisted the support of several consumer groups claiming the $3 cell phone tax is too high, but a 911 official said thousands of people no longer have a land-line phone, considering it a fair tax.

Being on the job less than two weeks, Buchanan said "I plan to focus on the big things first."

Buchanan has a BS from Fairmont State in business administration and a Masters in business administration from WVU.

He said "I worked my way through college, paying 100% of my college expenses," having served a four year stint in the US Marine Corps.