COUNTY'S ONLY 911 CENTER TO BE IN GOLD BEACH
November 29, 2001 11:00 pm

GOLD BEACH - Curry County will eventually have only one Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for 911 calls, and it will be in the Sheriff's Office in Gold Beach.

Sheriff Kent Owens told members of the Curry County Local Public Safety Coordinating Council Monday that the South and North/Central county PSAP agencies met and agreed to work together.

The county has long had two 911 centers, one in Brookings and one in Gold Beach, but the state recently ordered counties to write consolidation plans by September.

Owens said the state will fund no more than one PSAP in each county, and the two agencies in Curry County agreed to comply and place the single center in the most central location possible: the Sheriff's Office.

"They showed unity," said Owens. "Now the real work starts: putting the plan together."

Curry County Commissioner Lucie La Bont also attended the meeting of the two agencies and said it went well. She said the consolidation will be more cost-effective.

Owens said the state telephone tax pays for PSAP equipment, but not for personnel to staff the 911 center.

He said staff will have to be increased at the Sheriff's Office 911 center, but that cost will be more than offset by closing the Brookings PSAP.

Owens said Verizon needs to be involved in planning the expanded single center. He said the 911 center will not only have to be larger, but in a more secure position.

He said the technology to take all calls in Curry County from one center exists now. It will take one more tower, on the Harbor Hills, to allow Gold Beach to dispatch to the South county, but Owens said some money for that might be available from the state PSAP reorganization fund.

He said the county will also need new equipment and towers for its entire communications system. La Bont said there is good news on that too.

"The bill putting Curry County's emergency communication towers on the priority list for rural development projects did pass through Congress thanks to the efforts of Congressman (Peter) DeFazio," she said.

"This was a request that I put in the hopper in March on my trip to Washington," she said.

La Bont said projects applied for will be funded. The money will come in the form of a grant. La Bont and Russ Crabtree, manager of the Port of Brookings Harbor, will write the application.

La Bont said DeFazio is also working on other channels of funding for the communication towers.