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Lack of response impacts E-911

Staff Writer

The lack of response by Pike County residents is holding up progress on quicker emergency response service, although many are the same who wanted it.

E-911 Director Jan Dismukes said the service is supposed to be up and running in November 2002, but the future looks bleak.

In November 1998, Pike County voters overwhelmingly approved a surcharge on their telephone bills to pay for an Enhanced-911 emergency response service.

At that time, close to 80 percent of registered voters cast ballots reflecting their desire for the service that will allow emergency personnel to respond quicker.

"From our point of view, it’s disappointing," said Johnny Gibson, secretary of the E-911 board.

"This is something the people of Pike County voted for, overwhelmingly, and they are not responding."

However, many of those same people who voted in favor of E-911 are not responding to the call for information.

Dismukes said the public’s lack of response is what’s holding up progress.

MSAG Data Consultants, Inc. of Orange, Va. began field verification on June 27 by distributing packets that ask for much-needed information.

That task was supposedly completed in August, but less than half of those county residents have returned the forms.

The packets contained a form that asked for name, current mailing address and phone number and a postage-paid envelope.

Although Dismukes does not have any of the forms, she did suggest residents send their information ­ name (as the phone company lists it), phone number, physical address and the number of an adjacent county road. That information can be sent to: Pike County Communications District, P.O. Box 562, Troy, AL 36081.

Dismukes pointed out residents in the city limits of Brundidge and Troy did not and will not be receiving packets.

She also acknowledged some residents outside the city limits have not received information packets, although questionnaires asking for necessary information have been delivered. MSAG is supposed to distribute the packets to those residents they missed the first time.

In the meantime, the information that has been returned is being compiled in Virginia.

However, there are those that have not returned their forms.

"Those who haven’t returned their forms are holding up the process," Dismukes said. "I want to reiterate if they haven’t been sent in, they need to be sent in, now."

She said only 46 percent of the forms distributed have been returned so "we’ve got 54 percent we’ve got to get out and hunt. We’re probably going to have to go out door to door."

Mike Knighten, treasurer of the E-911 board, is encouraging anyone who has not responded to please do so.

"If they’re still holding them (forms), they need to get them in," Knighten said.

Not responding could mean penalties for the county, as well as a delay in emergency response.

"If they get one and didn’t fill it out, they are hurting everybody," Gibson said.

Dismukes said "it’s a very short form that takes less than two minutes to complete," but that information is invaluable.

"Some people don’t understand the importance of this," Dismukes said.

E-911 will be used to identify the location from which a person in need is calling. The service will dispatch assistance ­ deputies, police, fire or ambulance ­ although it will be in a central location.

Information being compiled by MSAG will eventually be sent to the post office so mail will be delivered to the correct address once the process is complete, Dismukes said.

Dismukes said the mapping plan involves dividing the county into seven districts, using highways as the dividing lines. Each of those sections will be numbered and the three-digit county road numbers will correspond. For example,

roadways in the third district would be renumbered beginning with 300.

Dismukes said the original plan was not to renumber roads in Goshen and Banks, but upon further evaluation, the E-911 board found it would be better to go ahead and make those changes.

The E-911 board is planning to purchase a machine that will print the signs for those roadways being renumbered.

Anyone with questions can contact Dismukes at 670-6600.