Originally created 12/28/96

Edgefield 911 near beginning



EDGEFIELD, S.C. - On schedule and under budget, Edgefield County's Enhanced 911 system has reached a number of benchmarks lately.

Last week, E-911 organizers finished compiling phone numbers and addresses for at least 85 percent of the county's households, the minimum required for the system to go on line.

That allowed the county to ask the state Budget and Control Board for final approval to start up the system in March. The board is expected to give the OK in January, E-911 co-coordinator Linda Priest said.

``I think we're going to be right on schedule,'' Ms. Priest said. ``The phone company's pleased, we're pleased and I hope Budget and Control will be pleased.''

E-911 will automatically list the address of a caller on the police dispatcher's computer screen, so street addresses have to be assigned to every home in the county and linked to phone numbers in a computer database.

Sheriff Billy Parker has hired nine dispatchers and will begin training them next week on new equipment in preparation for the switch.

``This is state-of-the-art,'' Sheriff Parker said Friday as he surveyed the almost-finished control room. ``When a fire call comes, they'll be able to press one button to blow the siren, set the tone off (to alert volunteer firefighters by radio) and raise the doors at the fire station that will handle the call.''

The new dispatch center is also equipped with text telephone service so it can communicate with deaf or mute callers, he said.

The 30-month project has been under budget on nearly every item, Ms. Priest said, including saving $10,000 by hiring some dispatchers part time rather than full time. The budget for administration and equipment in 1996-97 is about $322,000, county administrator Wayne Adams said.

Once E-911 is operating, the $1.50 monthly surcharge on phone bills in Edgefield County that has funded much of the project will drop to $1, Ms. Priest said.