The new Harper County Enhanced 911 (E-911) Board has met twice so far this year at the courthouse in Buffalo. Board members are Mary Chris Barth, the town of Laverne superintendent, and Steve Myatt, Harper County commissioner.

The first meeting was Tuesday, Jan. 8 with Harper County Sheriff Cliff Brinson, Texas County E-911 Coordinator Justin Carnagey, May Fire Chief CJ Breon and State 911 Coordinator Lance Terry in attendance.

Options were discussed in regard to consolidating and coordinating with other counties for required systems upgrades.

A Geo Safe Contract with Woods County was discussed. Woods County presently dispatches for Woods and Grant Counties.

Coordinating with Beaver and Texas Counties was also discussed which might consolidate the dispatch offices of Beaver and Harper County Sheriff’s and Laverne Police Department all into one dispatch center.

Concern over who would handle non-emergency calls was discussed.

Currently, the Harper County E-911 account has $421,000 from tax on phones which can be used to replace radio infrastructure.

The Harper County E-911 Plan and a grant request will need to be submitted together with the opening date currently set for May 1 of 2019. A response is due within 60 days. Harper County is required to come up with a 25 percent match for the grant. There is a 12 month minimum time to get the work done and a three year long term deadline.

Trustees discussed the importance Motorola Radio System and the Association of Public Communication Officials will be for the needed upgrades.

It was decided that Barth would attend the Beaver County E-911 board meeting to make contact about the possibility of creating a joint unit.

“The Beaver-Harper County line is fluid with school, postal and communities intertwined,” Barth said.

It was also decided that Harper County Commissioners would visit the Woods and Texas County call centers.

The board met again on Thursday, Jan. 17. This time, visitors in attendance were Laverne EMS Director Bobbie Mitchell, County Commissioner Secretary Charlene Waugh, and Harper County Commissioners Rex Brewer and Gary Nielsen. 

Commissioners gave a report on their tour of Woods County Dispatch office. They reported that the dispatch office has monitors to show call information and map location of calls. They also have a 55 inch wall mounted monitor that is used for fire season on tracking law enforcement and emergency vehicles in the dispatch area. 

According to commissioners, Alva has 11 dispatchers and they have been able to dispatch several fire calls before anyone observed smoke. 

Mitchell and Barth attended a meeting held in Guymon with Cimarron, Texas, Beaver and Harper Counties. 

According to Barth, “There was presentation on the new E991 system to be installed in Guymon. The system is being rebid with and anticipated order date of May 5. There is the ability to design each segment to individual county needs. The main electronic base will be housed in the PTCI communication complex. Dispatch will be located in the OHP facility. The system will have the capability to expand to include all 4 counties. PTCI is sending 2 staff for full training by West Safety Services.

"This vendor is located out of Longmont, Colo. with worldwide sales. There will be 8 total staff training to maintain the equipment through PTCI. This is the same system that currently serves all the Texas Panhandle. It has Viper, voice over for EM response, software for the system will be added automatically. There is flexibility in rerouting calls. The system should last 7 years. It automatically calls wreckers. The system can be configured to take city and county nonemergency calls.”

Barth and Mitchell were also taken on a tour of the E911 dispatch and Panhandle Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (PTCI) host site. PTCI Plant Manager Travis Clark and representatives Jay Spry and Robert Elliot met with Mitchell and Barth to address communication concerns in Harper County.

“Inability to hear on radios presently as well as the status of Laverne dispatch possibility of closing before the new system is in place, tower location, tower climbing contractors were discussed. Also discussed was the possibility of renting space on the OETA tower at Stockholm at a more reasonable rate than other towers,” Barth said.

The next scheduled E-911 board meeting for Jan. 23 was cancelled until a meeting with the Beaver County E-911 board to come up with the cost of establishing a central dispatch which will be based on population.