Back in 1989, when I first became sheriff, and working with Emergency Services, the county board and local first responders, it was evident that we needed to establish a 911 dispatch center for the citizens of Dickinson County. It took nearly 3 years to design and implement the system. We took our first 911 call in July of 1992. The county 911 center has saved many lives since its inception. I have experienced first hand through friends and family the importance of this system.
On Feb. 26, the taxpayers of Dickinson County will be voting on a proposal to levy up to .4 mills for up to three years for the replacement of equipment and the operation of the 9-1-1 center. The dispatch center is located in the lower level of the county correctional center and is operated by the county. The three cities and seven townships that make up our county benefit from our dispatch center. Without this center, four separate centers would have to be operated, one for the county and one each for Iron Mountain, Kingsford and Norway. The consolidation of these services has saved all municipalities and the citizens countless dollars. The push now is to consolidate services and Dickinson County did this many years ago.
The current dispatch center has three major components, 9-1-1, mapping, and radio dispatch. Over the past 2 years, two of those components have been updated through replacement, those being the 9-1-1 phone system and the mapping. The third component, the radio communications system, needs to be replaced. Without this equipment replacement, a 9-1-1 call can be received but fire, ambulance or law enforcement wouldn't be able to be dispatched. We need all three components in order to effectively offer public safety to the residents of Dickinson County.
Over the past several years, Dickinson County has explored a number of options, including contracting with another county, consolidation and going through the State Police at Negaunee. It was found that the current center best serves the citizens and is most cost effective to the municipalities in Dickinson County.
Dickinson County has one of the lowest 911 fees in Michigan. Dickinson County has operated on a very conservative budget since turning the system on. I also know that not just the 911 system, but the county board has run the county affairs very conservatively in an effort to keep county taxes at a minimum.
In closing, my past experiences working with Dickinson County first responders and those in surrounding counties makes the support of our 911 system so important. I am asking that you please support this initiative and it will be there for you when needed.
Donald J. Charlevoix