County 911 panel renews bid for larger dispatcher monitors

LISBON – The Columbiana County 911 Committee is resubmitting a request for 12 new computer monitors after county commissioners never acted on its original request from six months ago.

The committee agreed at this week’s meeting to again ask commissioners to approve the purchase of the larger replacement monitors for dispatchers, which are needed to accommodate the new aerial photograph that pops up when a 911 call is received.

The aerial photograph takes up half of the 19-inch screen on the monitors currently used. The location map that also automatically pops up takes up the other half of the screen, and the map has to be automatically shrunk to make it fit on the smaller screen, making it it difficult for dispatchers to read. The larger 27-inch Acer monitors are wide enough to accommodate both the map and the aerial photograph.

The six-year-old monitors are also plagued by “ghost images” on the screen that have developed from being used around the clock, which is another reason 911 Director Robert Emmons was recommending they be replaced.

The cost is $2,633.

All 911 purchases must be approved by commissioners, and Emmons brought the matter up again because commissioners never acted, one way or the other, on the committee’s original request from their last meeting in October. Commissioner Tim Weigle, who is chairman of the 911 committee, said he decided against bringing it up for a vote after his colleagues, Mike Halleck and Jim Hoppel, indicated they were opposed to the purchase.

“Is it the commissioners’ position we don’t need the larger screens?” asked Columbiana Police Chief Tim Gladis, who said commissioners should still formally consider their requests rather than ignore them.

“It seems to diminish the value of this committee,” he said.

Weigle said his fellow commissioners were opposed to the purchase because of the costs. Plus, there was concern about whether the old video cards would work well in the new monitors.

Gladis suggested some of the committee members attend the next commissioners meeting to explain why the monitors need replaced. “We’d be glad to answer questions. That’s one of the purposes of this committee,” he said.

“See you next Wednesday,” Weigle told Gladis. Commissioners meet 9 a.m. every Wednesday.

The committee then voted to recommend commissioners continue allowing 911 to pay for the contracts to maintain the computer-aided dispatching systems (CAD) used by the Columbiana, East Liverpool, East Palestine and Salem police departments. Those four, along with the county sheriff’s office, serve as 911 dispatching centers.

While the four police departments purchased CAD at their own expense, the 911 committee pays for the maintenance contracts, except for the sheriff’s office, which does not have CAD.

The decision sparked some discussion among committee members, with Highlandtown Fire Department Captain Jeremiah Coles saying he did not think they should be paying for the maintenance agreements since it is not critical to 911 operations.

The committee ultimately decided to continue with the arrangement, although Weigle voted no. The firefighters present did not appear to participate in the vote. The combined costs of the annual maintenance agreements is $30,432.