Lewis County 911 Receives $150,000 TransAlta Grant to Upgrade Software and Equipment

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Lewis County 911 Communications has received a $150,000 grant to upgrade its software and equipment that will help the dispatch center maintain and improve its services for the next five years.

The grant comes from the TransAlta Centralia Coal Transition Grants Economic and Community Development Board and fully covers the cost of the project.

“If we would not have received that grant we would have had to bill our first responder units and our agencies,” said Scott Smitherman, administrator for Lewis County 911.

The project covers updates for Lewis County 911’s existing software and hardware both in the back room and at the consoles that the dispatchers use.

“With this new upgrade, it allows us to maintain and excel on some of the stuff that we have that we’re currently using,” said Smitherman. “This will give us another guaranteed five years of service and support for the product, so we will maintain maximum efficiency for the next five years.”

The upgrades will also improve service on some of 911’s existing programs, such as the emergency response data platform RapidSOS, which connects first responders with the caller’s location using data from their device. The upgrades will also give Lewis County 911 the ability to record calls submitted via Text to 911, which Lewis County implemented last year.

“In the past year that we’ve had Text to 911, we’ve had no surefire way to record our Text to 911 calls, but this will allow us a surefire way to get that captured on the screen so we have a complete mechanism in place to track all of those text to 911 calls,” Smitherman said.

Lewis County 911 expects that the project will be completed by the end of this year. 911 staff is working with the dispatch center’s service provider to set dates for the system upgrades and ensure that the work doesn’t impact 911 services.

“That’s going to be a couple days' comprehensive project to get completed so we want to make sure that while we’re doing it, we don’t lose any services that are available now,” Smitherman said.

Lewis County 911 Communications provides service to all fire districts and departments, law enforcement agencies, American Medical Response, Lewis County Medic One and several other agencies in Lewis County.

The TransAlta Centralia Coal Transition Grants Economic and Community Development Board was formed as a result of the 2011 agreement between TransAlta and the state of Washington to transition the Centralia Plant away from coal-fired operations.

The board distributes grants within Lewis and South Thurston counties and in Washington state to help regional communities as the company transitions away from coal-fired electric power generation.

The company is investing $55 million into Lewis and South Thurston Counties and the state of Washington through the Coal Transition Boards, according to TransAlta.

More information on the grant program can be found online at cctgrants.com.

 

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Bill Serrahn

It's good that 911 will get it's upgrade, but does anyone question the appropriateness of using Transalta Economic Development Transition Funds for this? This is obviously some type of backroom deal to use money from a pot designated for something else entirely. All of these Economic Development funds, including the .09 distressed counties fund, are big slush funds that the various power players use as trading cards with almost no public accountability.

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