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911 merger date set

by Darlene J. Taylor

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- The Harrison-Taylor 911 system is scheduled to go online Oct. 1. At that time, the telephone company will redirect 911 calls coming from Taylor County residents to the Harrison Enhanced 911 Center.

Communication links with the various Taylor County emergency service organizations are going well, said Fred Smart, Harrison County 911 director.

Smart said three employees were moved from part-time to full-time status, effective Sept. 1.

"We have three additional people in training and anticipate (them becoming) full-time sometime during the month of September."

A minimum of five people will work per shift at the Harrison County Emergency Services Center, rather than four, Smart said.

Preparations for the merger have been ongoing for months with personnel training, meetings and installation of equipment.

Smart said the Harrison 911 Center has been working with the Grafton Police Department, the Grafton detachment of State Police and the Taylor County Sheriff's Department on communications.

"We've actually been communicating with them for several months doing teletype work, license and NCIC (National Crime Information Center) checks," said Smart.

Taylor County Sheriff Clark Sinclair said the communications have been up and running for several weeks with no problems on their end.

"We've been doing limited things with them on license checks to test things. I have been well pleased with the communications system," said Sinclair.

"Once we get started, if problems arise, we should be able to resolve them quickly. Like anything new, there are glitches. You just have to deal with them at the time," said Sinclair.

Sinclair dispelled rumors that there might be problems with explaining locations to responders.

"Officers and deputies are familiar with the county. If they (911 dispatchers) get good information from the caller and a contact number there should be no problem in locating the caller," said Sinclair. "It is not uncommon to run into that problem because of the rural addresses. I feel the five deputies and myself can respond efficiently to the call."

Grafton Fire Department Chief Wayne Beall said the communication system his department uses still needs testing, which is scheduled in the next week or two.

"Communications is a big concern. People are concerned about being in a larger service area," said Beall. "People know people here. Those in Harrison County won't know people in Taylor County."

To combine the two systems, a high-band link has been added to the four fire departments' existing communications system.

"If we see a need to improve on that system, we will work on that at a later date," said Smart.

The Taylor County Emergency Squad currently shares a dispatch system with Marion and Randolph counties.

"We will bring them over to our system. Hopefully we will have that accomplished in the next 2-3 weeks," said Smart.

Taylor County EMS President Amy Summers said there is still a little more work to be done.

"We are waiting on equipment to come in. We don't know who will pay for that. We're still working that out," said Summers.

According to officials, there will be no increase in the Enhanced 911 fee. Harrison County residents pay 98 cents a month and Taylor residents will continue to pay $1.50.

Staff writer Darlene J. Taylor can be reached at 626-1403 or by e-mail at dtaylor@exponent-telegram.com