Columbiana County officials are likely to proceed this year with implementing a basic, virtually cost-free version of a countywide 911 system. But they're doing so with some trepidation.
The basic version will route 911 dialers to the nearest safety agency.
But the system will be without a crucial database that relays to the safety agency receiving the 911 call important information such as the address from which the call is being placed.
A database-equipped system, also known as enhanced 911, would cost thousands of dollars and would require voters to approve a surcharge on their monthly telephone bills to pay for it.
Officials worry that once the basic system is in place, voters won't be willing to approve the surcharge to pay for an enhanced system.
Washingtonville Police Chief J.R. Blakeman has said he doesn't mind the frequent comparisons to Mayberry, the fictional town of the 1960s television sitcom "The Andy Griffith Show," when he talks about being Washingtonville's only full-time officer.
Recently, Blakeman and his part-time and volunteer officers have been trying to find a missing money bag containing nearly $10,000 lost by a 65-year-old resident.
Blakeman sounded a lot like Mayberry's Sheriff Andy Taylor in discussing the case.
"Somebody found that money, and I'd like to think there's good, honest folks out there who would have second thoughts about keeping it," he said. "Spending ill-gotten gains only leads to trouble."
XCONTRIBUTORS: Norman Leigh and Nancy Tullis, Vindicator Salem Bureau