Monday, March 26, 2001

Campbell dispatch board rolls up sleeves

The mission: New 911 working by July 2002

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — The fledgling Campbell County Consolidated Dispatch Board took its first tentative steps last week, but the six-member group quickly realized it has a lot of work to do to meet a July 2002 deadline to begin service.

        The single countywide emergency dispatch system is a consolidation of county, Newport and Fort Thomas dispatch centers. It will be financed by a $2 per month 911 surcharge on each telephone line in the county. Cincinnati Bell already collects the fees.

        The Campbell County dispatch system will be patterned in some ways after the Boone County Public Service Communications Center, which has handled all emergency dispatching for that county for several years.

        Plans call for a new center in the lower level of the Newport city building at 10th and Monmouth streets, space that the dispatch board will lease from the city. Total capital outlay to establish the center, which will have all new equipment, is close to $2 million.

        The 911 surcharges amount to about $1.5 million annually. Campbell County also has kicked in $750,000 in start-up money.

        The dispatch board is comprised of Newport Police Chief Tom Fromme, Fort Thomas Police Chief Steve Schmidt, Campbell County Police Chief David Sandfoss, Newport Fire Chief Larry Atwell, Fort Thomas Fire Chief Dale Edmondson and Campbell Fire Chief Ken Schaub.

        “This is an autonomous body,” Mr. Fromme said. “We make our own budget, our own decisions. None of the municipalities or the county have any responsibility for dispatching. We'll have a considerable amount of money to deal with, and we will need legal and financial assistance.”

        Mr. Edmondson emphasized at the board's initial meeting last Wednesday that “we need to move quickly to establish bylaws, and to begin the search for a director.”

        Among the issues brought up by the board members:

        • Establishing job descriptions, salary scales and benefits for the new director and the dispatchers.

        • Establishing a budget.

        • Hiring an attorney to provide legal opinions as the board moves forward.


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