Sky falling on workers at 911 dispatch center|[1/19/06]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 19, 2006

A new home for emergency dispatch staff in Warren County can’t come too soon. Earlier this week, a sagging ceiling gave way and nearly landed on an employee having lunch.

&#8220The work area is slowly falling apart,” said E-911 Dispatch Center director Geoffrey Greetham.

The ceiling tile and plaster fell over two of the four work stations in the dispatchers’ cramped area on the basement floor of the Warren County Courthouse.

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The equipment-packed room is directly below the courthouse steps.

The steps are made from natural stone which expands and contracts, resulting in leaks when caulking fails, Greetham said. That sprung a 2-foot hole Tuesday, exposing wires in the ceiling and allowing a slow drip of rainwater.

Aging equipment and compatibility problems with the center’s hardware and software are also reasons why Greetham wants to see a timely purchase of a new building for the staff of 20 who work in the room around the clock.

On Tuesday, the same day the roof segment fell, city and county officials verbally agreed on a price tag of $225,000 for the former Southern Printing building at First North and Clay streets.

The building has been sought as a new home for the E-911 Dispatch Center and storage space for new touch-screen voting machines.

A radio system from Motorola, expected to be part of an $800,000 upgrade to the center’s technological capability, must be ordered by April to ensure the correct version is still offered by the company.

At issue is its ability to interface well with records management systems used by local law enforcement.

The E-911 commission was still studying whether to approve an additional $214,000 for the upgrade in the radio system, originally budgeted at between $80,000 and $100,000.

The commission will take up the issue again at its next meeting on Wednesday.