By: Lydia Crawley
The Parsons Advocate
The Tucker County 911 Center will be hosting an open house to showcase the latest technological advances the center had implemented. The event will be held October 25th at the Tucker County Courthouse in Parsons. 911 Center Director Michael Simmons updated the County Commission on the event at the Commission’s meeting.
According to Simmons, the event will have media coverage. “There should be an ad in next week’s paper,” Simmons said. “I already have confirmation from Channel 5 and Channel 12. They will be here.”
The event will be sponsored by Motorola, Simmons said. “And Motorola is going to sponsor it,” Simmons said.
Simmons said the event would coincide with the Commissions 4 p.m. meeting at the end of the month. “That will be our four o’clock meeting,” Simmons said. “It switches from six to four at the end of the month.”
Tucker County Commissioner Fred Davis commented that he is often asked why so much money has been spent on the 911 Center. “People have questioned me why we’re spending so much money on the 911 Center,” Davis said. “Don’t know exactly why we did it and how nice it is.”
Tucker County Commissioner Mike Rosenau said he encouraged everyone to come to the event. “I want everyone to know they are welcome to attend this meeting to see exactly what their tax dollars are paying for,” Rosenau said.
Simmons said there would be a full demonstration involving other agencies to showcase the Center’s teamwork. “We will have full display,” Simmons said. “All intentions are we will have other agencies here with their mobile devices and be able to demonstrate how we are all interoperable now and connect independently, but still as a team. Where before we did not have the ability.”
Rosenau said the upgrades were the results of years of financial planning and saving. “We can also explain to the public that it is not something that we just incurred out of our budget this year,” Rosenau said. “This is something that’s been ongoing for years. Saving money to try to get this updated. So, to me, we’ve done the little things to put patches on things, but we’ve saved money all these years, this County has – I thank all the people who are responsible for doing that in the past – but it finally came that we could do it now.”
Rosenau said the Center has helped to make Tucker County leaders in the State. “To me it’s like, we’re one of the leaders in the state now,” Rosenau said. “As far as our Communications Center.”
Rosenau said he encouraged everyone in Tucker County to see what improvements the Center has made and how it will impact the public. “I think its great that we’re having an open display for the public to come and see,” Rosenau said. “And I encourage everybody, everybody to come see this. I don’t care if you live in Lead Mine, I don’t care if you live in Canaan Valley, I don’t care where you live, come and see what your County can do now because it is improved tenfold.”
According to Simmons, the Center is now on the threshold of technology. “The threshold of technology, we’re reaching the top of it,” Simmons said. “We’ve went from a five year shelf life, through the purchases we’ve made, we now have a 10-year shelf life.”
Rosenau acknowledged the training and dedication of the staff at the Center. “Not only the equipment’s improved,” Rosenau said, “the training of the employees to run this equipment. I’m having trouble with just my new cell phone. With that whole new stream of technology up there, I commend the employees, we commend the employees for taking the initiative to learn this new equipment and learn it well.”
Davis commented on the Center’s GPS pinpointing capabilities. “They can call in now with the cops and talk to him and Mike (Simmons) will know exactly what part of the house it is and which room they’re standing in and what street they’re in by the technology we got now lets the Sheriff Department, the EMS know where the house is and what color it is,” Davis said. “So the technology is awesome.”
Davis said the GPS capabilities has been useful to Fire and Emergency Services. “Being a Fireman, if the person (that) is lost calls you and you get a hold of Kevin or us, you can put us right on top of them now,” Davis said. “Without sending out 500 people, you know you can right up on top of that person because we’ve done this how many times since we’ve had it.”
Simmons said the GPS capabilities of the new system was recently used to guide crews during a helicopter extraction. “We actually had to airlift someone here a while back, where they couldn’t get in,” Simmons said. “We gave Trooper 5 GPS coordinates and they just dropped their own personnel out of the helicopter down in to take care of it and scoop them up.”
Simmons said Tucker County strives to be a leader in the State and the Center is now the first to have a system to automatically switch over in the event of main line communication failure. “You’re always telling us you are trying to lead things in the State compared to other places, being a small county,” Simmons said. “This automated failover system at the tower, we’re the first one our I.T. company knows of that has the automated failover. There is a couple that have two connections, but it requires them switching a wire at the Com Center and then driving to the tower site and then switching the wire. Ours is completely automatic.”
Rosenau said that people across the State are impressed with what Tucker County has done. “I’ll tell you, we, the Commission attends a lot of meetings outside of our county and its so good for us to say, look at this program we have in our county and they’re in awe. They have not even thought about it or they don’t do it.”
Rosenau used a discussion the Commissioners had in Charleston about Jail costs and the County’s Community Corrections Program as an example of how the County has led the State on issues. “I’ve talked about our meeting we were just to in Charleston,” Rosenau said. “They were talking about jail costs. This is just an example. We talked about jail costs and I was like, ‘Well, our County, we have a program called Community Corrections and that saved our County hundreds of thousands of dollars because the County took the initiative to go ahead and start the program.”
Rosenau said he feels good that the County is doing well. “We have a 911 Center that is top of the state,” Rosenau said. “Because we have planned …the Commissions have planned, through the years to get it to this point. So when your Commission goes to represent Tucker County at these various meeting throughout the State, it’s a good feeling to know our County is doing well.”
Refreshments will be provided, according to Simmons.
The next meeting of the Tucker County Commission will be held at 4 p.m. on October 25th at the Tucker County Courthouse Old Courtroom.