BEHIND THE SCENES
County honors 911 dispatchers for work during emergencies
By LAURA JAMESON
LOCK HAVEN — During an emergency situation, what is the one thing that everyone is taught?
And who is it that answers that call?
This week county commissioners recognized the hard-working men and women who work behind the scenes of emergency situations.
The county commissioners proclaimed April 8 through 14 as National Public Safety Telecommunicators’ Week.
Initially in 1981 by Patricia Anderson of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office in California, this week is seen as a time to celebrate and thank those who dedicate their lives to serving the public.
Clinton County Emergency Services Director Kevin Fanning spoke of the hard-working dispatchers at the Clinton County Communications Center.
Kevin noted the lack of said employees at the meeting.
“They’re working and clearly they are a modest group,” he joked.
He went on to say that since the county began engaging in 911 services back in 1993, technological advances have changed operations at the center.
“We’ve managed to keep pace with technology,” he said.
The system used now splits up and filters calls based on whether or not they are emergency or non-emergency.
He added that if there is an overflow of emergency calls they can be filtered into the non-emergency system as a way to avoid missing a call.
“We are very fortunate to have never lost a call,” he said.
In 2017, the county received 71,422 phone calls. Of those, 18,950 were 911 emergency calls and 36,871 were non-emergency calls, Fanning said.
Another 22,000 calls were listed as calls for service for a wide variety of emergencies such as fires, road blockages, medical emergencies, etc. Whenever emergency responders including police, firefighters or paramedics are called out, the calls are listed as calls for service.
Dispatchers are expected to multi-task during an emergency, as well as keep the caller as calm as possible. Some of the things they must do is enter the emergency information into the CAD system, radio for assistance at the location if necessary and coordinate various firefighters, police officers or paramedics over the radio.
In some instances the county itself doesn’t have enough manpower and dispatchers need to call for assistance from other counties such as Centre or Lycoming. If this is the case, along with everything else, they must control the radio traffic between the out-of-county workers and those in Clinton. These are called outbound calls. There were 15,665 outbound calls last year. Fanning ended by expressing just how proud he is of the employees at the communication center. “This is not your typical everyday job,” he said. “I can’t say enough for what they do for Clinton County.”
“We don’t have a surplus of (dispatchers) but we’re thankful to have them,” Commissioner Jeff Snyder said, thanking the men and women who are at the forefront of an emergency.
Also receiving accolades on Thursday was Schrack Farm Resources.
The large dairy farm, located in Loganton, has been a large part of the community for centuries.
Schrack Farm Resources has been in operation since 1773 and the family can trace their ancestors back 11 generations.
Jim Harbach, one of Schrack Farm Resources managers, introduced his wife Lisa Schrack-Harbach and her brother Kevin Schrack. Their children were unable to come, but he expressed how important their role is at the dairy farm.
“They (the kids) need recognition because they’re doing all the work,” he said.
Schrack Farm Resources was recently named 2018’s Innovative Dairy Farmer of the year which celebrates U.S. dairy producers who apply creativity, excellence and forward thinking to achieve greater on-farm productivity and improved milk marketing.
The commissioners presented a Proclamation of Excellence for Schrack Farm Resources.
Each commissioner took turns expressing his gratitude for the farm, the family and employees who make it all possible.
Commissioner Pete Smeltz noted the friendship he had with former manager, the late Dan Schrack, and talked about just how great a man he was.
“We’re so proud of you here in Clinton County,” Commissioner Smeltz told the Schrack Farm managers.
After receiving the award, the commissioners shook hands with the family and those on the Conservation District board of directors in attendance –Larry Butler, Rob Bowman and Bill Hunter.
Also approved at the meeting was the Tourism Promotion Agency’s 2018 Grant Application.
The grants provide non-profits the opportunity to grow without financial stress. The grant money is taken from hotel taxes. Chamber and Tourism Director for the Clinton County Economic Partnership Julie Brennan said the increase in hotel taxes means the amount available for grants should grow.
Applications are available at the Clinton County Economic Partnership Office, 212 N. Jay St.; at the Clinton County Planning Office, third floor of The Garden Building, 232 E. Main St., and online at clintoncountypa.com or clintoncountyinfo.com. The deadline for applications is April 20.
For further information or questions, contact Brennan at 570-748-5782 or Clinton Planning Director Katie de Sylva at 570-893-4080.
A small committee will review the applications and select those who will be awarded grants.
Brennan explained they run on a reimbursement basis, meaning the company spends the money and the Partnership repays them with grant money. Selections are expected to be announced by late April to early May.
Brennan said the process is often difficult, as the partnership receives more applications than they have money to give, so the board has to make tough decisions.
In other business:
r A motion was approved for a software license agreement with Telesoft, Inc. for the Clinton County Sheriff Suite Software for a one-time fee of $24,720 along with a software maintenance agreement for $4,944 per year. The yearly fee is adjustable each year, depending on the current pricing.
r An agreement was approved with Lamar Advertising for a billboard advertising the Reach Out Mentoring Program (ROMP), which replaced the Big Brother, Big Sister program for a three-month period at the cost of $390 effective April 9.
Commissioner Smeltz said this is an effort to get the word out about the new program.
r Michael Angelelli, Jason Foltz, Jennifer Bottorf, Sandy Ludwig, Amy Heverly, Jann Meyers, Lauralee Dingler, Amanda Browning and Sheriff Kerry Stover were approved to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Funding Committee for a one-year term from Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2018.
r The Salary Board approved establishing the position of full-time Roads and Agriculture Resource Technician at the Clinton County Conservation District at a starting salary of $36,297. Commissioner Snyder said that the salary of this position would be funded by grants and the county would only provide health benefits to the employee.