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June 20, 2014

Whitley to contact AT&T about blocking grant monies

WHITLEY COUNTY — While the regular agenda of the Whitley County E-911 Board was pretty routine, it was the discussion after the meeting but before adjournment that garnered the most attention.

A 51 percent law enforcement quorum was established during the Thursday morning meeting — voting board members in attendance included Kentucky State Police Trooper Bill Elliotte, Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley, E-911 Director Jason Williams, County Projects Director Amber Owens and Emergency Management Director Danny Moses.

Owens told board members that the county is in the process of sending a letter to AT&T concerning a grant from the state’s Commercial Mobile Radio Service Board (CMRS).

She said AT&T was allegedly attempting to block the county from receiving those grant monies — which have been earmarked for a new emergency radio dispatch system.

In the letter, the county requests all 911 calls get sent through Windstream Kentucky East LLC to the Central Kentucky 911 Network, based in Lexington.

“Hopefully they will comply,” Owens said, adding that Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney and Whitley County Judge/Executive Pat White Jr., both signed the letter — the “first step” in this process.

Croley asked how much revenue was lost to the county from cell phone users.

“It’s a lot — it’s astronomical,” Williams said.

The discussion briefly touched on landline telephones versus cell phones and what monies are collected from 911 fees.

How can that be changed?

“It would have to be changed by the (state) legislature,” Owens explained. “They would have to change that law.”

She added that right now, CMRS collects “wireless,” or cell phone 911 monies — then distributes those dollars through grants.

The grant sought is a $210,000 grant, and it would specifically pay for a new 911 phone system for the dispatch center, Owens said.

No board decision was required on this topic.

In other board business:

— Williams updated board members on Tuesday’s smoky scare in the dispatch center.

He said that about 1 a.m., one of the furnaces’ blower motors burned out and “smoked up” the lobby of the dispatch center and one of the offices.

“Everything was ok,” Williams said. “There was no fire, actually — just smoke.”

No one was injured in the incident.

— State Auditor Dan Boyd, with KSP, recommended that the 911 Board adopt the National Crime Information Center’s policy for NCIC data entry information validation.

And the board unanimously agreed to adopt that policy and make it a part of their standard operating procedure manual.

“Basically we need something in our (standard operating procedures) on how we do validations,” Williams explained. “It’s something you have to have.”

Validations are set up to confirm NCIC records are complete, accurate and still outstanding or active.

“We already do (this procedure),” Williams said. “We just need it in our (standard operating procedures) saying this is how we do it.”

Elliotte made the motion to approve the addition of this policy, with a second from Croley.

— The next meeting of the E-911 Board is tentatively scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 14.

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The soft whistle of a flute floated through the room as audience members listened in awe to tales of the Thunderbolt people. “This land that you’re now sitting on was that of Thunderbolt people,” said Thunderbolt descendant David Owens. Owens and Indian flute player Robert Mullinax stopped at the Laurel County Library Friday night to entertain with spoken legends, folk lore and tales of the bygone Thunderbolts. Audiences were captivated by stories passed down from the Thunderbolt of how things came to be. Tales about fire, pipes and Kentucky — just to name a few — were shared by Ownes over the course of an hour with Mullinax playing behind him.

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