County alarm system to continue
After over a year of study and debate, the Washington County Communications Commission approved upgrading the county’s AllSecure and Omegalarm Receiver system and adding a charge to the 60 users in the county.
During its meeting Monday evening, the board voted unanimously to continue offering the service to Washington County residents, but to add a $10 per month fee to offset the extra work being done by dispatchers. The board also voted to split the cost of upgrading the system among the users, which will total about $60 each. The rule was also set that if new users sign up for the alarm service offered by the Washington County Communications Center, they will have to pay a $60 installation fee that will be used to offset future upgrades to the system.
“The consensus I got was that the people wanted to keep it and they were willing to pay,” board member Bob Shepherd said. “They understand the value of it I think.”
The board had discussed whether or not to keep the service offered by the center to monitor alarms in area buildings after learning it would cost about $3,500 to replace the failing equipment for the program. Communications Supervisor Cara Sorrells said that about 60 entities use the service. The service has been offered without charge to the public beginning in 1988, and the equipment for it was installed then.
Chairman Ryan Miller opened discussion by asking if communications center personnel were there to respond to emergency calls or monitor alarms. He said if the board determined that the alarms should be kept, he wondered if there was any liability to the county.
Board member Merle Hagie said he had also received an overwhelming majority of communications from people wanting to maintain the program. He said he wanted users to know if a situation arises where 911 personnel are busy with an emergency, an alarm would be second in priority. Sorrels asked if the board wanted to have users sign a waiver of liability. The board determined to just put the policy in writing for the users.
Two audience members addressed the board, describing how they had satisfactory experiences with the service.
In other business, the board also:
• approved allowing Sorrells to serve on the state’s Interoperative Board;
• tabled discussion on the supervisory/officer appointments and set a personnel committee meeting for 8 a.m. May 2 in the Washington County Board chambers to discuss the matter; and
•discussed National Telecommunicator’s Week.