ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County's new Enhanced-911 center has been selected as a regional communications hub for the new Statewide Wireless Network.The State Operations Center for the Statewide Wireless Network will be located at the Essex County facility, Essex County Emergency Services Director Raymond Thatcher said."They'll be installing seven additional dispatchers in there. That will not be at any county expense."The Statewide Wireless Network is nearing the construction stage now and will connect state agencies like State Police, Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Conservation once it's completed.Supervisor Gerald Morrow (D-Chesterfield) said he wants to be sure the County Enhanced-911 center has enough room for the state equipment."We have room, absolutely," Thatcher said.The county plans to have several radio-dispatch consoles of its own in the 911 center, with at least two dispatchers on duty at all times."We've hired most of the dispatchers," Thatcher said. "The dispatchers hired are doing on-the-job training. When the rest are hired, we'll commence formal training."He said he believes only one training class will be needed, for now. The Enhanced-911 center will have a staff of 10 full-time and four part-time county dispatchers, and State Police will also provide some dispatchers.Thatcher said the equipment for the center is being paid from $1.4 million in grants."The call-taking equipment is being installed by contractors. The radio consoles will be ordered as soon as the contract is finalized."The center will need new radio frequencies, and the county has contracted with the Association of Public Communications Officers (APCO) to do the frequency coordination."The requests are in Florida with APCO," Thatcher said. "I'm hopeful we're going to be able to acquire the frequencies."He's urging towns to update their comprehensive emergency management plans."I encouraged (them) to review and update plans. If they need assistance, we can help."Since the 911 facility will also dispatch emergency services for the Town of Long Lake in Hamilton County, Thatcher said they'll do site tours of possible microwave and antenna locations there in May.The 911 center should be completed and ready to go online by midyear, he said."That's what I'm hoping for."
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