Greenbrier County Commission weighs cost of 911 Center system upgrades

By Matthew Young, RealWV

LEWISBURG, W.Va. – The Greenbrier County Commission, on Tuesday, convened later than usual for their regular bi-weekly meeting. Due to various displacements caused by the ongoing construction project at the Courthouse property, commissioners began the meeting shortly after 5 p.m., rather than their typical 10 a.m. start time. 

 A large portion of the meeting was dedicated to discussing the possibility of awarding contracts for necessary system upgrades at the Greenbrier County 911 Center. On hand to explain the upgrades were the county’s Emergency Management Director Don Havens and System Administrator Jordan Clendenen, as well as two representatives from Motorola. 

“For your consideration tonight, we’ve got two contracts for Motorola, and one for Aviat Networks,” Clendenen told commissioners. “The first contract is for the hardware refresh of our existing Motorola 911 call-taking system. This refresh simply consists of new servers, work stations, and supporting equipment – as well as a software upgrade to allow us to become compatible with next-gen 911, and move us into the future.”

“The second contract, also with Motorola, is for replacement of our radio dispatch consoles, and also for tower-site radios,” Clendenen noted.

The contract with Aviat Networks, Clendenen further explained, is for the installation of a “microwave network connection,” which will link the Emergency Communications Center to the tower on Muddy Creek Mountain. 

“We think that if we can move forward with this, it will greatly improve our operations to offer emergency services to the citizens of Greenbrier County,” Clendenen added.

According to Clendenen, the call-taking equipment currently in use by the county is approximately seven-years-old, with a required upgrade now two years past due. 

“They could die at any minute,” Clendenen noted, adding that the county’s radio equipment has been obsolete since Dec. 2021, and is no longer supported by the manufacturer. 

“I cross my fingers every day when I come to work, and hope we don’t have any major problems,” Clendenen said. “If we can’t communicate, we can’t get people where they need to be to help people.”

The total price of the upgrades – between all three contracts and spread out over five years – is just over $3.1 million. In response to a question from Commissioner Lowell Rose, Clendenen advised that the Motorola system is widely used throughout West Virginia, and the completion of these upgrades would make Greenbrier County fully integratable with many surrounding counties, as well as the State Police. 

After discussion, the commission opted to postpone their vote to approve the upgrades until their next scheduled meeting in order to thoroughly review, and request any clarification needed regarding the contracts. 

“I know we’ve had lots of questions, but we’re trying to get the best deal that we can for our taxpayers,” Commission President Tammy Tincher said. “We appreciate you being willing to work with us, and get us the information we need to make our decision.”

Should the commission vote to approve the system upgrades, it is likely that the county’s 911 fees would see an increase to offset the cost. Currently Greenbrier County’s 911 fee is fixed at $2.00 per month, and has not been increased since the fee was established in 1998. 

“In order to implement the upgrade, funding would come from 911 fees,” Tincher told RealWV after the meeting. “Consideration to increase the fees is being researched.”

In other business, at the request of members of the Honaker family, the commission approved the partial closing of an unused and unnamed road in the Hart’s Run area of White Sulphur Springs, which runs adjacent to their property, and authorized the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Blacksburg, Virginia Volunteer Rescue Squad for technical team support in Greenbrier County. 

The commission also approved resolutions for the creation of bank accounts for the “County Fire Protection Fund,” referred to as “Fund 41,” and the “EMS Salary Enhancement Fund,” referred to as “Fund 42.” The creation of these accounts satisfies legislative funding requirements. In the evening’s final piece of business, the commission approved a resolution to create a third bank account, “Fund 40,” for deposit of the county’s opioid settlement funds. 

At the conclusion of the meeting, Tincher issued a reminder to those in the service area of the proposed Sam Black to Asbury, and Charmco to Rainelle water line extension projects, saying, “If there is anyone along that route that is interested in water, we do need you to sign up.”

“If you’re considering or unsure, or if it’s something that you might think you want, we want you to call and get information,” Tincher added. “[Call] the Greenbrier PSD No. 2, at 304-438-9292. They’ll be able to answer any questions and help you sign up.”

The Greenbrier County Commission will next meet on Tuesday, Nov. 28. As of now, the meeting time is scheduled for 10 a.m. 

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