Counties team up for 911 upgradesStutsman County commissioners voted Tuesday to allow Richland County to take the lead in purchasing next-generation 911 equipment. The vote came shortly after a fiber optic line in a field was cut Thursday, causing Century Link and Dakota Central Telecommunications landline customers to lose service.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Stutsman County commissioners voted Tuesday to allow Richland County to take the lead in purchasing next-generation 911 equipment.
The vote came shortly after a fiber optic line in a field was cut Thursday, causing Century Link and Dakota Central Telecommunications landline customers to lose service.
“Our 911 center equipment was not working properly,” said Todd Volk, assistant 911 coordinator/emergency manager for Stutsman County.
Normally all the Stutsman County 911 calls are technically long-distance, Volk said. Calls are routed to Fargo and then back to local dispatch centers for the eastern part of North Dakota. In the west, calls are routed through Bismarck, Volk said.
As soon as the outage occurred, at 11:27 a.m. Thursday, Stutsman County’s 911 calls were rerouted to Bismarck, Volk said, and seven-digit emergency phone numbers were given to the public via television and news media alerts.
“It’s not something that happens very often. The last time this happened was over 10 years ago,” Volk said.
The rerouting lasted about six and a half hours, with the cable completely repaired by 6:30 p.m.
“Once we get this next-generation 911 (equipment) into effect, problems like this will hopefully be completely gone,” Volk said. “It goes to show how important it is for us to move forward with purchasing 911 equipment.”
“Next-generation” 911 equipment would eventually allow people to send text messages or photographs to 911 dispatchers.
Stutsman County will be pairing with Richland County to purchase the new equipment, and the counties will be able to serve as backup systems to each other, using the same mapping systems.
Stutsman County will also contract with Richland County for CodeRED emergency alert system, which can be used to send voice messages, email, text and social media notifications. People with landlines will be automatically enrolled, and people with cellphones may sign up at no cost.
According to the CodeRED website, the system’s uses can include snow emergencies, severe weather warnings, bomb threats, missing children, gas leaks, planned or unplanned service outages or street closures and even non-emergencies such as reminders to vote.
The contract will begin July 1 and end Feb. 22, 2013, with an $8,594 price tag.
Contracting through Richland County will save Stutsman County about $2,500 per year.
In other news Tuesday, the commission:
* agreed to pay $2,000 this year and $10,000 next year for the first phase of a feasibility study of flood-control options for the James River Basin. The first phase will yield data on the flood plain, and the second will examine possible solutions.
* agreed to pay $20,000 in additional funding for a feasibility study for an iron-smelting business at Spiritwood Energy Park. Those funds will be matched by Carbontec Energy Corporation.
* learned some preliminary information about budgeting for 2013. One mill will be worth $72,735.60 for next year’s budgeting purposes, compared to $66,743 the previous year. Health insurance costs for the county are projected to increase 16 percent. Aid money from the state will be increased by approximately $300,000 to $400,000.
* approved beginning the search process for a new Stutsman County Extension agent, to replace Lance Brower, who resigned last week.
* was reminded the next commission meeting will be 4 p.m. July 10 rather than July 3.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at email@example.com