Claiborne County nears 911 service

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 28, 2000

Much to the relief of city and county officials, Claiborne County is close to getting its own 911 service.

Shirley Hall, coordinator of the emergency telephone system, said she has spent the past two years putting together a database, which has included changing route numbers to physical addresses for homes and making sure the telephone numbers match up with those addresses.

“We hope to have it up and running in three to six months,” Hall said. “Right now we are just working out the bugs.”

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It will be the first time Claiborne County’s 11,400 residents will be able to dial 911 in any emergency.

Until the system is switched on, Hall said residents need to keep phoning the specific service they need.

“Until we are running, they need to call the sheriff’s department, police department and fire department numbers,” Hall said.

With 911, dispatchers take all types of assistance calls, are informed by computer of the address from which the call was placed and can send appropriate personnel.

“The way it is right now, it takes too much time, so this is going to eliminate some steps and make it easier.”

Vicksburg and Warren County, with a population of about 50,000, has had 911 as the all-emergency number for decades, and voters opted to pay for the enhanced system in 1989.

Port Gibson Mayor Amelda Arnold said she is glad her city is moving forward. “Even though we are small, we need this,” she said. “It will be a great advantage to us.”

As in Warren County, 911 operations will be funded through a surcharge on residential and business phones.

Roy Ainsworth, 911 marketing director for BellSouth, said until the new system is in service, a person who dials 911 in Claiborne gets an operator. “The operator will then connect them to the sheriff’s department,” he said.

Claiborne County Sheriff Frank Davis said he is eager to see the 911 system up and running.

“I think it is going to be a great help to us,” Davis said. “Once it is set up, we will have a diagram on the computer to show exactly where the call is coming from. Right now we depend on the deputies who answer the phone to know where an address is.”

Hall said she isn’t sure how many people will be employed at the 911 office. “We will work out of the sheriff’s office once it gets going,” she said.