71 apply to be director of troubled 911 center

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 27, 2005

[1/26/05] Members of the commission that operates Warren County’s 911 Dispatch Center turned their attention Tuesday to the selection process for a new director for the center.

The application period ended Friday with 71 people interested in the job that includes managing the computerized center, an $800,000 budget and about 14 people.

The search became necessary following the November resignation of then-director Allen Maxwell.

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Maxwell left in the wake of personnel strife that escalated into allegations that two members of the commission, then-chairman Kelly Worthy, who is Warren County coordinator of volunteer fire departments, and L.W. Callaway III, director of the Warren County Emergency Management Office, did not respond to employee grievances.

Worthy has since stepped down as chairman, but remains on the seven-member commission.

Numerous closed sessions have been held in recent weeks, including Tuesday.

After, Vicksburg Fire Chief Keith Rogers, now chairman, said members discussed hiring two temporary dispatchers for up to 60 days and to hire a dispatcher trainee who will begin work Friday. On motions following the meeting, the commission voted unanimously to approve both actions.

Rogers also gave commissioners packets containing the applications of all 71 people seeking the job. Commissioners will study the applications, and the commission will meet again at 9 a.m. Tuesday, at which time they will attempt to come up with a short list of applicants to advance to the next level in the process.

The combined center was created after a 1989 countywide referendum in which voters agreed to back the computerized city-county center and staff it with trained dispatchers to answer all 911 calls. In addition to fees collected from wired and cell phones bills, the center also receives supplements from city and county tax funds.

In other action, the commission:

Approved allowing interim director Peggy Wright and Kenny Staggs, address coordinator, to negotiate a service contract for the dispatch center computers to include a provision that a service person would be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Accepted for information a proposal from Berkley Security for a video surveillance system for the dispatch center.

Took under advisement a survey of other dispatch centers and what directors are paid.