COLUMBIANA COUNTY Committee approves final plan for better 911 service countywide
Also included would be an easier way to track cell phone users in need.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Officials in Columbiana County hope to ring in the New Year with enhanced 911 emergency telephone service.
The county's 911 planning committee approved the final plan Tuesday. All cities, villages and townships in the county now have until Oct. 21 to adopt or reject it.
Gary Williams, the county commissioner spearheading the project, said the plan will go into effect if subdivisions representing 60 percent of the county's population approve it. The county has about 112,000 residents.
Before the unanimous vote, Williams said, "This is kind of a momentous moment."
If approved, the plan would be something of a first and a last.
Williams said the plan would be one of the first in the state to include 911 service for cell phones. Counties that already have 911 service plans have to amend their plans to reflect fees now charged cell phone users to support the emergency service.
But the county is one of the last in Ohio to have a coordinated 911 plan. Efforts to enact 911 service were defeated in 1985.
The "enhanced" portion of the service means a caller's address will appear on computers at the answering center.
Robert Emmons, the county's 911 director, said that when the enhanced system is in place, 911 calls from cell phones will appear as a dot on a map. Now such calls are routed to a police department somewhere, he added.
The plan calls for five answering points: Salem, Columbiana, East Palestine, the county sheriff's office and East Liverpool. Each will handle police, fire, and ambulance calls. The sheriff's office will handle calls for the largest number of subdivisions, including villages, such as Lisbon, that have their own police departments.
The only subdivision that has not been assigned to an answering point is Wellsville. It will go with the sheriff's office or East Liverpool.
"I think this is a good plan that can work for everyone in Columbiana County," Williams said.
The sheriff's office and the Salem and Columbiana answering points will need remodeling at a cost of $90,000. The committee also approved spending funds from an Appalachian Regional Commission for the remodeling and work stations for the call centers.
The state may not find fault with the plan. Williams said he had given a draft copy to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which must approve it.
County residents can read the plan and see service area maps by going to www.columbianacounty.org and clicking on E-911.