Central dispatch transition getting mended

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JP Lamont Richie said the Quorum Court has been talking for more than a year about moving the dispatch operation to the Carroll County Jail facility at an estimated cost of $470,000, and the project is rife with complications and unclear completion, and he does not know why.

He said the big mistake in creating the project was not designating a project manager to get the job done properly and in a timely fashion. To that end, the budget committee agreed to allocate $1000 to pay someone to superintend the project. JP Jack Deaton asked Sam Ward, former chair of the Western Carroll County Ambulance District who had worked with an unofficial committee to direct the county in its transition toward modernizing its radio communication system, to take on the responsibility.

Richie called the current situation “a complete mess.” He said work has been done and paid for, although the funds had not been allocated, and disjointed moves were made which could have jeopardized the dispatch system.

Ward told JPs the situation was “not in super horrible shape.” He did point out the transmitter at Beaver Dam was operating illegally because the technicians inputted the incorrect latitude and longitude. This would require reapplying for the license for that location at a cost of at least $1000.

In other locations, Ward said the wrong cables had been installed, and he said it would cost less to install a new antenna at the Sheriff’s Department than the current plan of moving the one from the courthouse.

JP Chuck Olson asked Ward what would be the plan, and Ward replied that first, get licensing in order. Next get all the repeaters in the county operating correctly and in sync, then get the tower situation rectified. “One step at a time,” he said.

Richie asked what might be the completion date, and Ward said he honestly could not speculate and would not pretend otherwise. The timing of some of the tasks, such as the licensing, is not under their control.

Richie observed he would not vote to approve another project unless it had an independent project manager. He also insisted they not lose a second of dispatch coverage during the transition. JP Chuck Olson insisted they not skimp on quality going forward because they are already having to pay extra to rectify problems caused by less than adequate equipment. He advocated spending a bit more for quality at the outset.

JP Larry Swofford observed, “The bottom line is we’ve gone past halfway across the creek, so there’s no turning back.”

Ward will continue to update the court on progress.

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