Curry County Commissioners okayed an emergency upgrade to the county’s phone system at their business meeting on Nov. 20, even though they don’t currently have the funds to pay for it, at approximately $57,000.

Can You Hear Me Now?

The Curry County phone system upgrade is not a full-blown system replacement, which would cost $125,000. Instead, the planned upgrade will take advantage of as much existing equipment as possible.

The original plan, discussed last month, was to budget for the phone system upgrade over the coming year. Instead, staff has applied for a loan through Business Oregon to cover the costs while the county continues to budget funds to pay for it.

This latest action was precipitated when the phone system failed last week — again. Most departments were unable to receive incoming calls, including the Sheriff’s department. The county has been unable to retrieve voicemails left on the system, when they discovered the phone system failure on Nov. 12.

The phone system was already teetering at “end of life” when the system suffered a hardware failure several months ago that caused the shutdown of “a good portion of the system that provided redundancy and load sharing.” While the phone system was restored at that time to functionality, there was still a high risk of downtime.

The phones still cannot retrieve voicemail after the most recent failure. If you are trying to reach the county, keep calling until someone picks up. No one will return your call unless you leave a message with a human.

“The system failed quicker than anyone expected,” Commissioner Christopher Paasch said.

The phone system upgrade is not a full-blown system replacement, which would cost $125,000. Instead, the planned upgrade will take advantage of as much existing equipment as possible. The plan only replaces the servers and system licensing, but comes with a warranty for the new servers. Other devices, such as phones and routers are not covered for replacement with the warranty.

In other business at the meeting, commissioners

  • Passed a resolution supporting inmate access to their medical provider, instead of those costs being assumed by the jail.
  • Terminated the contract with Brandt Media for their media services contract as of the end of the year, but will not get rid of channel 182, accepting a proposal by Brandt Media to use the remainder of their contract to train county staff how to place county meetings on channel 182.
  • Amended the Transient Lodging Tax ordinance to enable taxes to be collected by intermediary companies, like Air Bnb.

Adams Gravel Extraction Appeal Hearing

In a separate hearing for the Adams Pistol River Gravel Extraction appeal, commissioners heard testimony from the applicant and interested parties. Adams provided more information at the meeting than in his previous application about his plans, which opponents mostly appreciated, but still wanted details based on scientific assessments.

The hearing was closed after all speakers entered their comments, but the record is being held open for an additional 14 days. With any new information placed into the record, the applicant has 7 days to respond. Commissioners and opponents, while strongly supportive of Adams’ proposal to fix the problems with excess gravel in the Pistol River, encouraged Adams to provide documentation of support from federal and state agencies and more detailed plans. Commissioners and opponents requested that Adams consider putting his appeal on hold.

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