GREENVILLE — Citizens came forward to offer their thoughts on Darke County’s 9-1-1 and dispatch center plans during Greenville City Council’s May 2 meeting.
Prior to the council meeting, the Darke County Board of Commissioners announced a proposal to move to a single PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) 9-1-1 system and a unified emergency dispatch operated through the Darke County Sheriff’s Office and paid for by the county. The proposal came on the heels of a recommendation by the 9-1-1 Advisory Board on April 12, which voted 2 to 1 in favor of the move.
Greenville Safety/Service Director Curt Garrison addressed the commissioners at the board’s April 27 meeting, asking how a county-run dispatch would be funded and if it would require additional funding from the city as Greenville has a high call volume by comparison. He provided council with a summary of the questions and answers from that meeting.
Greenville currently maintains its own dispatch, accepting landline calls only. Cellphone calls within Greenville city limits are dispatched to the city’s emergency services from the county.
The county’s proposal for a centrally located center has met resistance from some within the city.
Greenville resident Kathy Beam told council she supported the city keeping its own dispatch and added, “I thought our commissioners were rude and condescending to our mayor, our safety/service director, and to all of our city employees in the comments made over the last couple weeks in some of those meetings.”
Another resident, Susie Garrett, also urged the city to retain its dispatch, telling of her own personal experience in an emergency situation and saying, “We need these girls over there. They’re heroes.”
“We do understand the appeal of having free dispatch services as financial savings for the City of Greenville, although we know nothing is ever truly free,” said Elizabeth Collins, union representative for the city’s dispatch employees. “The City of Greenville dispatchers perform many duties above and beyond dispatching that can’t be provided by another agency.”
“Because we only dispatch for the city, we are familiar with many of the citizens, residences and businesses,” she added.
Garrison also told council he supported another county initiative, the move to the MARCS (Multi-Agency Radio Communications Systems) system for all first responders in the county, noting recent equipment failures with the city’s current VHF system.
“It is my opinion this is the way we need to go,” he said. “MARCS is the best that we have available right now.”
Questions persist on the move to MARCS as well, specifically as it regards to funding for maintenance and replacement units. The County Commissioners have suggested a property tax levy could be put before voters to provide ongoing funding.
In summary, Garrison said he was not necessarily opposed to moving to a single dispatch or to the communications upgrade, but said there remain a lot of questions that need answered.
“I’m not against using the county for dispatch if we have the proper items in place,” he said. “If we can have an agreement, if we can have a process to work out grievances, if we can have a sustainable revenue source for our radios, with our consoles and looking at that capital outlay, if there’s ever a time to make this change, that time is now.”
Council did not move to take any action on the issues.
In other business, council adopted the following measures:
- An ordinance authorizing $7,800 for an HVAC engineering study and a resolution to enter into a contract with Don Miller & Associates Engineering for said study.
- An ordinance authorizing a joint-use agreement between the City of Greenville and the Y.O.L.O. organization for a license to enter upon and make improvements to the municipal parking lot off South Broadway for construction of an urban park.
- A resolution authorizing a contract with Corman to replace water lines at the intersection of Sweitzer Street and the railroad tracks.
Greenville City Council meets the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. The public is invited to offer brief comments during the “Public Hearing” portion of the sessions. Meetings can also be viewed the following day at the City of Greenville, Ohio channel on Youtube.
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com