911 upgrade adds reliability

Lawrence County officials also plan to expand the 911 center.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Lawrence County's 911 System will soon get a much needed update.
The system, which failed twice in the past two years, is getting new telephone equipment that should ensure 911 is always available, said Frank Janetti, the county's 911 director.
Janetti said new telephone lines and equipment will be installed in stages over the summer and should all be in place by August or September.
The 911 center had problems in June 2000 and earlier this year when computer software failed and then a single switch that routes 911 calls to the proper emergency center went down. People dialing 911 heard busy signals or nothing at all, a condition that lasted several hours.
Janetti said the new system will have two switches that back each other up if one fails.
The new telephone system will also come with features that will make dispatching easier, such as caller identification for calls from cellular telephones and calls to the center's nonemergency numbers, he said.
They will also have the ability to answer 911 calls from a remote location if something were to happen to the 911 center, he said.
The $600,000 system will be paid for over the next five years with money from the monthly $1.25 per-telephone-line surcharge the center receives, Janetti said.
Janetti gave Lawrence County commissioners an update on the new equipment at their meeting Tuesday.
Location won't change
Commissioners decided during the meeting that the 911 center should remain in the Scottish Rite Cathedral for at least the next five years.
Commissioner had talked of moving the center to a county-owned building or constructing a new building for the center, but decided it was too costly.
Commissioner Brian Burick said moving the telephone lines would cost anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000.
Commissioners, instead, decided to sign a five-years lease with the Scottish Rite Cathedral and double the size of the current center. Their current lease ends in July.
Burick said the monthly rent will increase by $700 for the extra space to $2,100 per month. They expect to spend about $50,000 on construction costs for the expansion, he said.

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