Three projects necessary to the integration of Greene and Calhoun Counties into the West Central Illinois Dispatch Center are underway.
While Greene and Calhoun counties are already part of the dispatch center, there are several projects that need to be completed as part of the process.
Emergency Management Director Phil McCarty says some of these projects have been going on for close to a year. McCarty explains that the first two projects involve readdressing certain rural areas in both counties.
“The first one is readdressing. All the rural addresses in Greene and Calhoun will get changed to more of a typical street address. It’s a very long process which has been going on for about nine months. There’s also a sign project going on for both counties, where we’ll be putting up road sign markers in the rural environment. Again, this is very similar to what you’d see in the city, but these are out on the rural roads, so it’s easier to locate people’s residences and such in the rural environment,” says McCarty.
McCarty says the other project necessary for this process is being constructed today, and will help improve communication between the three counties.
“We’re building a communications system in both counties, and actually we’re putting up a tower today in Roodhouse which is part of that project, and that’s been ongoing for a number of months. The communications system will allow us to communicate directly to first responders from the dispatch center in Jacksonville,” McCarty says.
McCarty explains that Greene and Calhoun Counties joined the West Central Joint Dispatch Center as a result of legislation passed within the state last year.
“The legislators wanted to ensure that everybody across the state had equal access to 9-1-1 services. So as part of that legislation, counties that were un-served such as Greene and Calhoun, those counties partnered with counties that already had a system like Morgan did, to create a West Central Joint ETSB. We were awarded about $800,000 worth of grant funding. In the past, (Greene and Calhoun) only had basic 9-1-1, and by the end of 2017 they’ll have a total, enhanced 9-1-1 system, the same as all the counties in the state of Illinois,” explains McCarty.
The dispatch center is working with organizations like the U.S. Postal Service and phone companies to provide accurate notifications for people whose addresses are changing as a part of this process.
As for a timetable for completion, McCarty says they’re hoping everything is done in the early first quarter of 2018, but that there are a lot of moving parts.