Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

May 21, 2009

Nappanee's 911 center may be closed

NAPPANEE — The fate of Nappanee’s 911 dispatch center is in jeopardy.

That was the message that City Council members heard Monday night as they toured the city’s dispatch center.

Mayor Larry Thompson explained that a law recently passed states that by 2014 there should only be one dispatch center per county and it will likely be located in the largest city in the county.

Nappanee reportedly was the second 911 dispatch center in the county. Tod Schmucker, communications supervisor, conducted the tour for council members. The department has five full-time dispatchers and one part-timer. Administrators are looking to hire an additional part-time dispatcher to fill a vacancy.

Normally, there is one dispatcher on duty during the day and two dispatchers on the 2 to 10 p.m. shift. When storms are threatening, there’s a fire or a breaking police case, another dispatcher will be called in. The center services 125 square miles, plus it just added paramedic service to Wakarusa and New Paris.

Schmucker said Nappanee and Elkhart County 911 share the same software and share a T1 data line. They use Indiana Data and Communication line for warrant checks and Bureau of Motor Vehicle checks. In August of 2007, a lightning strike wiped out 90 percent of the electronics and Schmucker said they were up and running in four hours and in 12 hours were back to full capacity. Two months later when the tornado hit, Schmucker said, “Everybody knew their job and did it right there and then.”

The dispatch center also has a windspeed indicator that was torn up in a winter storm last winter and officials are working with the weather service to replace it.

Schmucker said, “We have all the same equipment the county has. We’re considered a small county.”

The mayor said that one thing that might save the city’s dispatch center is the fact that its is in two counties — Elkhart and Kosciusko.

“At the end of the day it’s about the quality of service we provide for our citizens,” he said.

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