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Taylor 911 system could be in place in record time

by James Fisher


The Taylor County 911 Center will be up and running in what could be record time, bringing emergency service to the fingertips of more than 15,000 residents in the county, according to one county official.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the center will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday. The center is expected to begin total dispatching operations on Oct. 15, a turnaround time of about three weeks.

"I think this is the quickest anyone in the state has gotten a center working," said Bruce Miller, the executive director of the Tygart Valley Development Authority and member of the county's 911 board. "Most of the time it takes several months or even a year or so to get the center up and running."

The 911 center will serve the Grafton City Police, Taylor County Sheriff's Department and the Grafton Detachment of the West Virginia State Police, as well as the Grafton and Flemington fire departments.

The new building for the county-wide dispatching center will be located behind the Grafton City Hospital, Miller said. This site was chosen because of its central location.

Originally, the center was to be located inside the hospital, but Miller said the renovation costs were too high. They chose to build a new center, instead.

"From the stand point of the best possible locations, this is great," he said. "It's a high point in the county and it's a good location for emergency services."

The system used by the new dispatching center is an enhanced 911 system, which 911 Director Greg Groves said is an added bonus.

The enhanced system displays the caller's name, address and basic directions. So, even if the caller is unable to speak to a dispatcher, law enforcement officials can respond.

The total cost for the project -- including the building and computer systems -- is expected to run about $400,000, Miller said. The funding comes from two different telephone service fees, he said.

All cellular telephone customers in the state are charged 75 cents per month for county 911 systems, and some Taylor County telephone customers are assessed a $1.50 per month fee for the center.

The center will benefit both the residents and the law enforcement officials in the county, Groves said.

"This is better for the citizens because there will be just one number to call," he said. "Right now, if you have a car accident outside the city of Grafton, you have two or three numbers to call for the police, fire department and an ambulance. After the 911 center is operational, we can send everyone necessary to a scene."

Another benefit of the consolidated system is the dispatchers, he said.

"Our dispatchers will be trained for a speedy response," he said. "They will be able to determine what the emergency is and send the proper agency."

Groves said that even though the Taylor County Sheriff's Department will keep its dispatchers, some of the other communications officers will start working for the new center. Groves didn't know if any of the employees would lose their jobs.

"We will have eight dispatchers hired by the first of the week and some of them will come from local law enforcement agencies," he said.