The Cleburne County E911 Board on Tuesday approved for its employees in the 911 Department a 50-cent-per-hour raise, as well as a proposed restructuring of the department.

Crystal Cavender, 911 director, proposed changing the positions within the department by moving two of the part-time employees to full time. The move would give the board eight full-time and four part-time employees. The changes will cost approximately $5,000 for benefits for the two new full-time employees, she said.

It will not mean paying for additional hours, she added. There will still be two dispatchers working 24 hours a day, Cavender said. But it will mean a set schedule for the full-time employees, she said.

“I feel this would be such a morale booster,” Cavender said.

It takes six to eight months to train a new dispatcher and the average career span is about three years, she said. In addition, all employees in training are working part-time, she said. The department just lost one five-year veteran of the department who left for another job.

“You all know that it’s extremely high stress and they deal with a lot,” Cavender told the board members.

Add to that the difficulty of working part-time with no guarantee of a certain number of hours, a set schedule or benefits and the department has a hard time holding onto its part-time employees. They move on to full-time positions somewhere else, Cavender said.

“I think this is a turning point for us,” Cavender said. “I would hate to see anyone else go.”

The raise, which was also approved by the Cleburne County Commission for all county employees, will cost the board about $12,573, Cavender said.

The board members approved the changes and amended the budget to include the additional costs.

In other business

In other business, the board members:

— Approved a letter to the Alabama 911 Board asking members to review its funding of the state’s 911 systems across the state. The allocations to the systems were set years ago, Board Chairman Corey Cochran said. Cleburne County has since had to increase the number of dispatchers to deal with increased call volume, he said.

— Approved allowing Cavender to drive a 911 vehicle to and from work. The board will create a policy to govern the vehicle’s use later.

The next meeting will be Oct. 18 at 6 p.m.

Staff Writer Laura Camper 256-463-2872 in Heflin, 256-235-3545 in Anniston. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.