Construction begins on new E-911 center

The Blount County 911 Board voted last Thursday to contract with Goodgame Company Inc. of Pell City to construct a new 911 Center on Jack Fendley Drive, adjacent to its present location across from Woodland Park in Oneonta. The present building will be demolished when the new one is complete.

The 4400-square-foot center will be built at a contract price of $1,408,105. Construction will begin immediately and is scheduled for completion in 120 days – by early February. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held today at 10 a.m. at the site.

The new building was deemed necessary to address safety issues and difficulty of renovation at the existing building, and to provide room for future growth. The new building is underground with hardened features to make it resistant to inclement weather and other disasters.

The 911 Board voted at the same meeting to start the process of selecting and hiring a full-time 911 director to be on the job at about the same time the new building is complete. Max Armstong, who presently serves both as director of 911 and as director of the county emergency management agency, is expected to retire early next year. Other changes

On Oct. 1, 2013 (yesterday), new rates were put in effect for 911 service in Alabama, based on a statewide law passed in 2012. The new model specifies a single, uniform fee of $1.60 per device or line that will apply to landline telephones, wireless telephones, and all other devices, such as VOIP (voice over internet protocol), that can communicate with the 911 network.

The current landline rate (before Oct. 1) for Blount County subscribers is $2.49 per month per residential telephone line, and $4.20 per business line. Currently all mobile phone subscribers throughout the state are charged 70 cents per device.

The uniform fee of $1.60 is based on an estimate of the total number of devices that can access the 911 network in Alabama. It will be reviewed and adjusted based on actual collections each year. The initial estimate was developed by researchers at Auburn University, then adjusted by a statewide board and legislative review panel.

All 911 districts are expected to receive their current level of annual funding, with an adjustment made for inflation every five years.