Perry County’s E-911 Board voted last Thursday, Nov. 10, to move the county’s E-911 operations center from its current location in Uniontown to a newly-renovated building in Marion.
Though the move was not without its critics, Perry County E-911 Board Chairman Bill DeYampert said the new facility in Marion would allow E-911 to provide better service countywide. DeYampert said the board had been in talks to make the move since February, but had lacked a quorum at its regularly-scheduled monthly meetings since that time to hold a vote on the matter.
E-911 had previously explored other potential locations in Marion, including potential spaces in the James Hood Detention Facility, the Albert Turner Courthouse Annex, and the Courthouse Annex #2 building on Washington Street. For various reasons, none of those locations worked out.
Eddie Horton, of the Perry County Vounteer Fire Association, said his organization had identified and purchased a suitable building in Marion for E-911.
Horton said moving the service’s main broadcasting tower to Marion, in the geographic center of Perry County, would help to provide more even and extensive coverage.
“It’s like if you have a candle,” he said. “If you put it in the corner of the room, the corner of the room gets light. But if you put it in the center of the room, then you’ve got light everywhere.”
Horton acknowledged that some employees may not want to see their workplace move from Uniontown to Marion. But, he said, “There may be somebody in a vehicle that’s upside down that’s going to die if we can’t get there. Every call that comes in, we respond, and we do our best,” he said. “We want to protect everybody in the county, from the volunteers up. It would mean a lot if our radio system was better. Communication is everything.”
By virtue of his office, Perry County Sheriff Billy Jones has a permanent seat on E-911’s board. Jones strongly opposed the move in the pre-vote discussion.
“This matter about 911 moving—It’s not going to move. I’m going to put a sock in that. We have 24 hour service here with the Sheriff’s office. No one is at Marion Police Department after 4:00, but someone is at the jail 24 hours so they can get them some help. The only 24 hour service [in Uniontown] is the 911 center. When people go to the [Uniontown] Police Department and no one is there, they go to 911. I’m not going to take that service from the people in [Uniontown].”
Later in the board’s discussion, DeYampert said the board had had “a couple of issues” with establishing a quorum in the months since February. He said the board had to hold a special called meeting last month, to discuss the close out of their most recent audit with representatives of the Alabama Examiners of Public Accounts. Because that meeting required a quorum and was held the same week (but on a different day) than their regularly-scheduled monthyl meeting would have been held for October, DeYampert said, the board held a vote on the move at that meeting. However, because the meeting was a called one, without the requisite public notice, DeYampert said, he was concerned that that vote might not have been valid. He called for a vote of the board on the move.
“It’s not going to move,” said Jones. “You can vote all you want, but E-911 is not going to move.”
“Why?” asked DeYampert.
“We’ll see,’ said Jones. “You go ahead and vote and do what you want.”
Of the board members assembled, Sandra Reed, Eddie Dozier, and DeYampert voted “yes.”
Jones abstained from voting asking his vote to be recorded as, “It is not going to move.”
DeYampert declared the motion passed, and later said he planned to start the move that week.