Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 27, 2010

chief’s hiring official; first day Monday

Jason Tatum will start Monday as director of Vicksburg Warren E-911 Dispatch Center after commissioners forewent a formal vote on the position.

The 36-year-old former Warren County deputy was approved to head up the centralized emergency dispatch center at First North and Clay streets following a vote Feb. 16, District 1 Supervisor and E-911 Commission chairman David McDonald said.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Originally, Tatum faced official approval after the vote 11 days ago was said to be informal and, thus, non-binding. McDonald said Friday he recorded minutes from the mid-month, re-convened session and that Tatum was approved by six of seven commissioners who attended the regular meeting Wednesday. During official meetings, a secretary employed by the center takes board minutes.

Sheriff Martin Pace said he recused himself from the proceedings because one of the candidates was a current sheriff’s department employee.

Tatum, a Vicksburg native, was a deputy from 1995 to 2001, then headed up security at River Region Medical Center until 2005. Most recently, he worked as a safety coordinator with Birmingham-based BE&K Construction. Six had applied for the job, with three interviewed. It pays $48,500 annually.

Deputy director Nicole Vera, an eight-year employee who also interviewed for the job, will train Tatum while retaining her position, which pays $44,720.

Business tabled until the panel meets again March 31 involves whether the center will provide staff to enter data into a statewide domestic abuse protection order registry. The Attorney General’s Office has worked with court clerks, law enforcement agencies and the Department of Public Safety to develop the registry, intended to be an online program into which data is entered on every protection order issued in Mississippi so domestic violence offenses can be tracked across jurisdictions and sent to a national criminal database. Pace and Vicksburg Deputy Police Chief John Dolan, a former sheriff’s deputy, appeared before the commission Wednesday to see whether the center can take up the task.

The center operates on about $1.3 million annually, a figure that has risen since voters approved centralized dispatch in 1989. Salaries for secretaries, the deputy director and director — which account for roughly $500,000 of the annual budget — are paid for via surcharges added to home and cell phone bills. Dispatchers’ salaries are paid for with a 65 percent contribution from the city and a 35 percent contribution from the county.

Authorities for emergency calls have been headquartered at Clay and First North streets since last January, completing a $2.5 million equipment upgrade and facility renovation. Part of the upgrade involves improving the center’s capability to locate all emergency calls from cell phones.

Commission posts are held by McDonald, Pace, Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield, Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong, Vicksburg Fire Chief Charles Atkins, Warren County Volunteer Fire Coordinator Kelly Worthy and Warren County Emergency Management Director Gwen Coleman.

Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at dbarrett@vicksburgpost.com