DeSoto County 911 panel backs new call system, gets green light on tower deal
Jul 27, 2012 (The Commercial Appeal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The DeSoto District Emergency 911 Commission has accepted a recommendation for a new phone and recorder system at a cost of $1.2 million, trimming about $8,000 a month in maintenance costs.
Also during Wednesday's meeting, the panel endorsed further legal preparations for a joint-use communications tower deal with the DeSoto Regional Utility Authority.
On the new phone system, the offer from AT&T "replaces all the 911 phone equipment that's used by the department to receive and process calls," said Commissioner Chris Shelton, the Southaven information technology chief who chairs the phone and recorder committee. That body recommended AT&T.
"We basically had a system that reached the end of its service life.," he said of the old system.
"There also are end-of-life issues with our audio recorders," said Shelton, joined on the committee by commissioners Greg Phillips, Olive Branch's communications manager; and Mike Riley, Hernando police chief. "We wanted to replace these to make sure we have good documentation. This is crucial in compiling information to establish a legal case, and when someone calls and the dispatcher can't immediately understand. He or she can play it back."
Under the recommendation accepted by voice vote with no nays, AT&T would be paid $872,887 up front for a Solacom Guardian phone system with 19 consoles and a Higher Ground system with five recorders, with the balance paid over 60 months in installments of about $6,290. "And we'll own it," Shelton said.
District executive director Debby Dunnaway said Thursday she expects the contract will be signed by the end of August.
On the tower matter, the 911 panel's attorney, James E. Holland, reported that a long-awaited official opinion from state Atty. Gen. Jim Hood, dated June 29, showed no legal problems with the district using 911 funds to assist in the construction of communication towers jointly with the utility authority, with the authority retaining tower ownership.
The opinion was sought to clear up the issues as the authority builds the $13.8 million Johnson Creek Waste Water Treatment Facility near Walls and seeks a tower in the area. Hood noted that to obtain federal funds, the utility must own the tower. The plant is due to be finished and operational by spring next year.
In other matters, the commission approved $59,481 in monthly expenses, and renewed a pact for radio maintenance and tower site upkeep in the coming fiscal year. The $217,230 deal, shorn of grounds keeping, is only a slight uptick from this year's $214,000 contract.
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