Havre Daily News
After a long and sometimes contentious process, Havre and Hill County will be outfitted with enhanced-911 equipment sometime within the next month.
Hill County Sheriff Greg Szudera said Tuesday, after a meeting of the Havre-Hill County 911 board, that the state will install the equipment, which will allow dispatchers to see the location of emergency phone calls, at both the city and county dispatch centers.
Szudera, who chairs the board, said more work has to be done, including an eventual upgrade that will allow the equipment to work with cell phone calls.
Some of the puzzle's pieces are already in place, including dispatch equipment at the city and county dispatch centers, and a microwave link that connects the two. What the board needs now is a technical coordinator to update the mapping system as new buildings are constructed in the county and correct more than 100 errors in the current map.
“Now it's getting down to the technical part, maintaining the data that comes in,” Hill County sanitarian Clay Vincent said today. “You need to stay as current as you possibly can.”
Board members Tuesday discussed hiring a local coordinator to do the work and decided to research possible options before their next meeting on Jan. 10.
Vincent said the employee would have to be familiar with the mapping software and know how to use Global Positioning System equipment.
During Tuesday's meeting, Havre Mayor Bob Rice and Police Chief Mike Barthel said they know of a person who is interested in the job, but were unsure if she would have the time to perform all of the work.
Vincent said some of the errors in the current map are simple ones, like a reference to a Fifth Avenue address that is actually located on Fifth Street, while others will be more difficult to fix. The map was created using information about phone hookups, and some of those hookups have unknown locations, he said.
The e-911 equipment will cost about $90,000 per dispatch center, he said, and the board has more than $377,000 in funds.
Last winter, the board voted to locate the e-911 call center at the Hill County Detention Center, reversing a two-year-old decision to locate the primary center at the police station. The original decision had come after a two-year debate, with both the city and county wanting the primary call center located at its facility.
Board members cited the cost of upgrading the city's dispatch center as the reason for locating the dispatch center at the county. The city was able to purchase the necessary equipment after John and Darlene Sharp donated more than $130,000 to the city's cause.
After about five months of debate, during which the city decided to move forward with plans for its own independent call center, the board again voted to locate the primary call center at the city. County officials had advocated consolidating city and county dispatch at the county jail.