Council approves one-call plan

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By James Roberts

A tornado has been spotted in the northern tip of Taylor County. With a few clicks of a computer mouse, 911 dispatchers record a message and 10 minutes later, the entire county has been notified of the approaching danger.

Though it may be a scenario few hope to experience, it will be possible thanks to a new tool local emergency personnel will soon have for notifying residents of emergencies.

The program, One Call Now, can send out a pre-recorded message to as many as 5,000 phone numbers per minute.

"Within 10 minutes, the whole county will be notified," said Ronnie Dooley, Taylor County Emergency Management public information coordinator.

According to a letter from Mayor Brenda Allen and Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers addressed to City Council and Fiscal Court members, the program will not affect local budgets. Though the program carries a $20,441.80 price tag for four years of service, $11,651.83 will come from E-911 wireless funds while the remaining $8,789.97 will come from the E-911 one-dollar surcharge on landline phones.

Campbellsville City Council approved the proposal during its regular meeting Monday night. Taylor County Fiscal Court approved the proposal during its regular meeting on Tuesday.

Dooley said it will take about 30 days to set up the program.

The program will be a valuable new tool for E-911, Dooley said, because it offers a better chance of notifying everyone, as opposed to the current television notification system through Comcast Cable.

"Every household doesn't have Comcast and those who do have to be home with their television on. We'll reach more people through One Call Now. This will be the first thing we go to."

One Call Now may replace the television notification system, Dooley said.

A telephone directory will be used to input all listed home and business numbers into the system. Unlisted numbers will also be included, Dooley said. Unlisted numbers are those that are included in Windstream's database, but not included in the phonebook. Unpublished numbers, however, will not be included in the One Call Now system. Unpublished numbers are those not included in any database. Phone companies may charge customers for this option.

Phone numbers are updated quarterly via telephone directories.

Council members asked about large businesses and organizations, specifically Campbellsville University, which have numerous phone numbers.

Each household and business can provide up to six additional numbers, including cell phones, Dooley said.

According to Joan McKinney, Campbellsville University's director of communications, the university has its own notification system in place.

"We have the first responders who get the emergency calls, and then the calls are filtered through a notification chain of staff members who send notices through e-mail and/or telephone."

Once a contract has been signed with Ohio-based One Call Now, Dooley said, E-911 will begin distributing information on how to sign up for additional numbers. Options include forms in the Central Kentucky News-Journal and Campbellsville Water Co. bills.

Any weather warning would warrant a call, Dooley said, including some winter weather warnings.

"We would definitely call for tornado warnings and probably would call again when the all-clear is given."

The system would also be used in the event of a hazardous materials spill or for police emergencies that warrant an evacuation. In these cases, only people living in the affected areas would receive the call, using the program's mapping system.

Calls could come at anytime, day or night, Dooley said, though discretion will be used.

"If it is something we feel the public needs to be notified of, like an immediate threat, we'll make the call. We are not going to notify someone of a winter storm warning at 3 a.m. If it is a tornado warning, we most definitely will."

If there is no answer when a phone number is dialed, a message will be left on voicemail, Dooley said. If a line is busy, the program will redial the number five times.

For those who do not wish to receive the notifications, Dooley said, there will be an opt-out option at the end of each message.

While the program does offer the opportunity to send out six non-emergency messages a year, Dooley said that should be a feature rarely used.

"You might want to use discretion with that," he told Council members Monday. "You might get more people opting out [if too many non-emergency messages are sent.]

"It's really a system to be used for public safety, not public awareness."

Smoking ban

City Attorney John Bertram brought the Council up to date on the City's effort to ban smoking.

The committee studying the ban has been watching progress on Louisville's smoking ban, which has been challenged because it excluded Churchill Downs. Bertram couldn't say whether that issue had any bearing on Campbellsville's efforts, but he said it was reason to study the issue further.

Councilman David Nunery, who serves on the committee, said a public meeting last Thursday was canceled after he received a 700-page Surgeon General's report on smoking. The meeting will be rescheduled, he said.

Nunery did share some of the findings of the report, which states that exposure to secondhand smoke is a known cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, increases the likelihood of heart disease and lung cancer and that babies who breath secondhand smoke develop weaker lungs and are more prone to asthma and ear infections.

Councilman Stan McKinney discussed the option of placing the issue before voters, which he said can't be done. Bertram agreed, saying state law requires that legislative bodies must be the ones to address a smoking ban.

Councilman Randy Herron suggested a public poll on the issue. Allen suggested contacting Campbellsville University about a public survey. Nunery said that the committee is addressing that option.

Other action on Monday:

u The Council approved a resolution allowing Allen to file a renewal application for the Taylor County Hope Community project. Allen said work on the state-funded alcohol and drug dependency recovery center should start soon. The center will be located on City land near Holiday Inn Express. The renewal application is simply a formality. Because the center hasn't opened, the City must file a renewal to keep the project active.

u The Council had first reading of a 2006-2007 budget amendment. The amendment increases the City's total revenue from $11.3 million to $12.1 million. The amendment includes additional occupational tax, municipal aid funds and Rescue income. Allen said a special meeting will likely be set for next week to have second reading of the amendment.

u The Council gave Allen the go-ahead to raze the City's barn at the Par 3 golf course at Miller Park and build a new metal building. Allen said she received estimates of $16,000 to $18,000 for the project. The barn is in disrepair, Allen said. The building would be used for storage and public restrooms.

u The Council received a letter from Comcast announcing a $2 rate increase, which changes preferred basic rates from $46.99 to $48.99. McKinney asked if Comcast was making its customers aware of the switch from analog to digital television signals in February 2009.

Those who own older, analog televisions and receive programming over-the-air through an antenna will have to purchase a digital-to-analog set-top converter box to be able to view digital programming. Between Jan. 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009, all U.S. households may request up to two coupons, worth $40 each, to be used toward the purchase of digital-to-analog converter boxes. For more information, visit www.dtv2009.gov or call (888) DTV-2009.

u Allen congratulated Councilwoman Frances Clinkscales on receiving Campbellsville/Taylor County Rescue's Richard Ramsey Servant Spirit Award. Named in honor of the late Bro. Richard Ramsey, who served at Rescue from 1984 to 1999, Clinkscales received the award for serving her community through various Boards and Campbellsville City Council and always being quick to help the less fortunate.

u Team Taylor County Executive Director Ron McMahan told the Council that four existing businesses are looking at available buildings for expansion. Unemployment was at 4.9 percent in November, McMahan said, indicating that the county has recovered from the Fleetwood closure. McMahan also mentioned Campbellsville Apparel's recent military contract. The company will be producing undershirts for four branches of the military. Nunery said those products can be viewed at www.camapp.com.

u Council members received a report on surplus items recently sold. A 1995 Honda Prelude received two bids and sold for $1,531.91. A 1994 Toyota truck received four bids and sold for $1,763.21.

- Staff Writer James Roberts can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 226 or by e-mail at writer@cknj.com.