COLUMBIANA CO. County expects new 911 system

Grants would help buy equipment for the network.
LISBON -- County commissioners unveiled a draft Wednesday of an $875,000 plan to install an enhanced 911 emergency system in Columbiana County.
"We will have an inexpensive system to operate that will increase efficiency in handling emergencies for the citizens of Columbiana County," said Commissioner Gary Williams, who chairs the county's Enhanced 911 Technical Advisory Committee. "We're in the process of finalizing the plan and hope to have the system up and running by the end of the year."
Jim Hoppel, board president, said the system will be a great improvement over the current situation in which 911 calls made in the county are answered by sheriff's office personnel, who refer them to the appropriate community emergency units.
The new system also will allow the locations of callers to be identified on computer screens to speed responses, Hoppel said.
Commissioners said they believed their county was one of only two in Ohio without enhanced 911 capability. About a dozen people attended the meeting in the courthouse.
Five locations
Williams said plans call for installing enhanced 911 centers at five "public service answering points," which include Salem, Columbiana, East Liverpool, East Palestine and the County Sheriff's Office in Lisbon.
He said the county's cities and townships will only have to fund the personnel to staff the answering points, not the equipment, which will be paid through grants along with revenue from people making 911 calls.
The budget as drafted includes computer equipment, $600,000; work stations, $100,000; renovating dispatch centers, $50,000; voice recorders, $30,000; electrical grounding equipment, $10,000; moving telephone and radio equipment, $10,000; and paying a person to direct the creation of the new system, $50,000.
Williams said the budget also will include $25,000 for "reverse 911" capability to allow residents countywide to be notified by telephone regarding a missing child or adult, a natural disaster or a human-related threat or problem.
The board member said the cost of the equipment and installation will be paid with a $545,700 grant from the SBC telephone company, $225,000 in fees of 50 cents per 911 call received from land-line telephone companies through March 31 and a pending $186,900 grant the county anticipates receiving from the Appalachia Regional Commission.
This money, totaling $957,600, is more than enough to pay for the system as planned, he said.
He said the county also may receive about $55,000 per quarter from a 32-cent fee cellular phone companies charge their customers for 911 calls.
Williams said the budget and plans for the system will likely be finalized and approved by the task force during a meeting at 1 p.m. May 24 at the courthouse.
Once the county planning committee and commissioners approve them, the plan and budget will move on to the county's 27 political subdivisions for approval. If the officials in at least 60 percent of those political entities approve the plan and budget, the system will be installed, Williams said.