Havre Daily News
Havre Mayor Bob Rice on Wednesday said he's still feeling the fallout from a debate that divided city and Hill County officials over the location of an enhanced-911 call center.
At a meeting of the Havre-Hill County 911 Board, Rice said he still hears complaints from residents about the eventual decision to locate the e-911 call center at City Hall, with a backup at the Hill County Detention Center.
County officials agreed during the meeting that the decision has been made and that it's time to move forward with the board's work. E-911 equipment, which will enable dispatchers to see the address from which emergency calls are made, is set to be installed at both locations next month.
Last winter, the board voted to locate the call center at the Hill County Detention Center, reversing a two-year-old decision to place the primary center at the Havre police station. Members cited the higher cost of upgrading the city's dispatch center as the reason.
During several months of debate, the city decided to move forward with plans for its own independent call center and county officials advocated consolidating all emergency dispatch at the detention center to avoid cost duplication. Finally, board members accepted a compromise to locate the primary call center at the city and a backup at the county.
Each call center will cost about $90,000. The board has more than $400,000 in funds raised from a fee on local phone bills.
Rice, one of seven members of the board, said people are still grumbling about the decision.
“I still hear: ‘The city's ripping off the county. This money's being wasted,'” Rice said. “All those innuendo things, they're not making our jobs any easier. I'm really tired of people coming to me and telling me the city ripped the county off. I realize it was not a comfortable decision for all of us, but so be it.”
Hill County Sheriff Greg Szudera, who chairs the board, and County Commissioner Mike Anderson said they hear some of the same talk.
“A lot of this is residual,” Anderson said. “I hear the same thing.”
Anderson and Szudera both said they have put the decision behind them and are working to move forward with the board's business.
Another piece of the e-911 puzzle fell into place recently, with the installation of a new diesel backup generator at Havre City Hall. The generator will be able to power city offices, along with the police and fire departments, in the event of a blackout. The generator was one of the required upgrades for the city, which lost its old generator after a storm knocked out power several years ago, Police Chief Mike Barthel said.
The city used about $25,000 in U.S. Department of Justice grant funds to purchase the generator, he said.