New & Improved 911 System
With a safety grant from the operators of the Trojan Nuclear Plant near Rainier, the city-county dispatch system moved to the basement of the HOJ as insurance from potential nuclear radiation leaks. Then about twelve years ago when I was with the City of Longview, I helped successfully lobby for a huge grant to acquire a new computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system. That grant helped transform dispatch system into a more effective 911 system for the public.
Unfortunately, over time this basement location has become problematic. The HOJ’s HVAC system regularly fails to keep the CAD system adequately cooled. Dispatchers were also periodically plagued with infestations of various bugs to say nothing of the flood threats from the nearby Cowlitz River. Crippled by significant staff cuts during the Great Recession, staff morale hit an all-time low several years ago when they voted for a motion of no confidence. To make matters worse, our partner agencies became frustrated with ever increasing costs and complexity of dispatch services.
The only solution was a new funding source to restore staffing levels. I joined first responder leaders to call for a new sales tax reserved just for 911 Communications, which the voters approved several years ago. Since that time 911 Communications has been spun off from the county as an independent agency jointly governed by a board of first responders, municipal administrators, and one county commissioner. They have hired a new director and with staffing levels now at historic heights, staff morale has improved. The board is preparing plans to move to a modern new headquarters next year. BOCC Chair Joe Gardner is 911 Board Chair, too.
Weber's Experience Gets Things Done