Jefferson County 911 to add text capability

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County commissioners on Thursday approved a contract that will take the county’s 911 system to the next level.

Robert Herrington, county 911 director, said an updated telephone switch will allow persons to text messages to the 911 center. He said the existing telephone switch is 11 years old and features analog technology as opposed to modern digital technology.

The 911 board will purchase the telephone switch from Tritech Software Systems of San Diego for $232,033. The price of the existing telephone switch was in excess of $400,000.

Herrington said people with speech or hearing disabilities will benefit from the texting option. He said it is valuable during a domestic incident or a break-in, and people will be able to send pictures of an accident scene to the 911 center, allowing dispatchers to make assessments about emergency personnel who may be needed.

Herrington said state law doesn’t require bidding of 911 switching equipment, but he got four quotes from other vendors.

The equipment will be in place in 2018 because the old and new equipment will have to operate simultaneously for a period before the old equipment is shut off.

In other matters, commissioners were presented with the county engineer department’s annual report for 2016.

The report showed 9.5 miles of roads were paved, 27.35 miles were chipped and sealed, six bridges were replaced, 14 bridges were rehabilitated using county crews, eight slips were repaired and 5,744 tons of salt were spread during the winter months. The slip repair projects cost $250,390, with federal grants covering all but $96,513.

Clay Merrin, chief deputy engineer, said the bridge replacement and repair work cost $1,068,552, and the paving, $1.2 million. He added the oil and gas industry made improvements to more than 18 miles of county roads.

The department spent $697,891, with half of that cost coming from three new dump trucks.

Kara Bernhart, county bridge engineer, said the $11,247 in state funding will be used to complete weight limits for special haul vehicles on 11 truss bridges in the county. Overweight vehicles in the oil and gas industry apply for special permits to cross certain bridges.

Commissioners agreed to submit two projects as part of the Ohio Community Historic Preservation Fund, which is being funded with $1 million from the Rover Pipeline project. Rover Pipeline established the $1 million fund for historic preservation in the 18 counties impacted by the pipeline project.

The projects are parking lot improvements at the Pleasant Hill School House Historical Museum, which the commissioners learned may not meet the terms of the grant, and fixing the back wall at the courthouse after the demolition of the courthouse annex.

Commissioners also:

¯ Opened 11 proposals from firms interested in doing general engineering and architectural services for the commissioners.

¯ Agreed to purchase a lawn tractor for Friendship Park at a cost of $9,520.

¯ Approved attorney fees for indigent criminal defendants for April in the amount of $23,380.

(Law can be contacted at mlaw@heraldstaronline.com.)

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