Weaver council hears of plan to consolidate 911 dispatch systems
by Brian Anderson
banderson@annistonstar.com
Feb 25, 2014 | 3017 views |  0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WEAVER — The City Council is weighing a plan that would streamline 911 calls through one central county location.

On Tuesday night, Calhoun County 911 Director Kevin Jenkins presented the Weaver City Council the agency’s plan to get all emergency responders in the county onto one central dispatch system. Jenkins said the plan is still in the beginning stages, but said the city could save up to 40 percent of its annual cost for 911 services by eliminating three full-time dispatchers from the city’s payroll, as well as giving up the costs associated with maintenance for a dispatch system.

Jenkins said the system would be more efficient than the current 911 system, which transfers calls to different agencies.

Calhoun County 911 already handles dispatch for the Anniston Fire Department and the 10 fire departments making up the Calhoun County Volunteer Fire Association.

The total cost for Weaver’s participation in the central dispatch system was not discussed Tuesday night, and no formal action was taken.

Weaver Mayor Wayne Willis expressed interest in the plan, and said from a pure economic viewpoint, he didn’t see a downside to the system.

“The bottom line is nickels and dimes,” Willis said. “If this system is going to offer us as good or better service, and we can save money, I think it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Weaver police Chief Wayne Bush, however, expressed some reservations about the plan, saying the system would only be efficient if every agency in the county got on board.

“I love the idea, but only if we’re all playing in the same sandbox,” Bush said. “In my opinion, I’d be very surprised if everyone jumped right into this.”

Bush also expressed concerns about eliminating city-employed dispatchers, and said no one would be at the Weaver Police Department after hours if the city eliminated the positions.

“I’m worried about customer service,” Bush said. “If someone comes here at 2 a.m. needing help, they’re not going to have a human here. They’ll have to push a button that goes to dispatch.”

Jenkins said 911 would be more likely to hire Weaver’s current dispatchers if the city joined the system faster than other municipalities.

In other business, Weaver resident Linda Green spoke to the council at the meeting about starting a community garden. Green said Tuesday she’d like to start a gardening committee, to which Councilman Les Hill and Councilwoman Ellen Cole both volunteered to join. Any Weaver residents interested in joining the committee should contact Weaver City Hall at 256-820-1121.

Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.

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