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Wednesday, March 24, 2004


E-911 suffers setback

Board unsure of projected start-up date

"You know, I built a bicycle when I was 11 years old. It worked, but it never worked as well as the one that came from one company."

DENNIS WRIGHT, Blaine County Commissioner

Express Staff Writer

Implementation of Emergency 911 services in Blaine County has been set back from a projected July start-up date.

It is unclear at this time when the E-911 infrastructure might be in place to begin serving county citizens, said Blaine County Communication Center Board Chairman Ron LeBlanc.

The Blaine County Commission voted unanimously on Monday, March 22, to authorize the communication center board to spend $30,000 on consulting services with a Minneapolis company called GeoCom.

Under the contract, GeoCom, which under a separate contract is cataloguing Blaine County’s streets and addresses for a central E-911 database, will recommend what electronics equipment the county needs to implement the service.

However, the vote was identical to one the commission made in January.

"In January, we had arrived approximately at that same position," Commission Chairman Dennis Wright said. "We also thought that sometime down the road, we need to be able to bypass that, provided that the group of five (governing board members) were willing to sit through a presentation."

Wright said he did not sign the authorization papers following the January vote so that communications center board members could sit though a presentation from CML Emergency Services, a company that manufactures E-911 communications systems.

That presentation occurred Friday, March 19.

Wright said he believes Blaine County should strongly consider a company like CML because it can provide all of the equipment and support that is needed.

"I’m just fully confident that they’re a company that knows what they’re doing," Wright said.

But under the contract, it is GeoCom that is supposed to "help the governing board with these difficult decisions," said Ketchum Fire Chief Greg Schwab in January.

Blaine County Commissioner Sarah Michael pushed Monday for quick approval of the contract with GeoCom.

"The board has sat on this contract for two months," she said. "It seems to me that we should move forward with this contract unless both of you (fellow commissioners) feel like you want to move forward with CML."

Though he voted for the GeoCom contract, Wright said he is concerned that the consultant might recommend an electronic infrastructure that is put together from different vendors.

"It would seem to me, it’s not the smartest way to go to buy a work station from one vendor and a smart box from another," he said. "You know, I built a bicycle when I was 11 years old. It worked, but it never worked as well as the one that came from one company."

GeoCom’s work will be funded by a $1-per-month tax on telephone lines that was approved by county voters in November 2002 for the express purpose of establishing an E-911 system.

By December 2004, the land-line and a separate cellular telephone tax are predicted to bring in $626,600.

LeBlanc said Geocom’s street and address catalog is on schedule for a June completion.


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