The Wilson County Emergency Communications 911 Board discussed proposals from architectural firms to look at the possibility of expanding the current 911 building to have room to include dispatchers and call-takers from every emergency services and law enforcement agency in Wilson County.
Proposals, which were requested as “requests for qualifications,” were submitted from seven different bidders, with several being Tennessee-based, but a few coming from as far away as Arizona and Texas.
The proposals were opened during the board’s executive committee meeting, which was held prior to the 911 board’s regular meeting Monday. The executive committee is made up of three sitting board members. The proposals were later discussed during the board meeting.
“We want to make sure we acknowledge the bids and that (the bidders) have the qualifications,” board member Terry Ashe said. “We’re not taking any sort of action on this yet.”
The board previously voted to move forward with co-locating dispatchers and call-takers from the 911 office, Wilson County Emergency Management Agency, Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and Lebanon and Mt. Juliet police and fire departments.
The first step in that process is determining if it will be possible to construct an expansion on the current 911 building at 1611 West Main Street in Lebanon to house all dispatchers and call-takers.
Board member Ron Britt said he wanted to know when the 911 board would have a commitment from other agencies that they would see the project through.
“There comes a time when it’s a point of no return,” Britt said. “I want to make sure it can’t be politicized … that if we get a new sheriff somewhere down the line, he doesn’t decide he wants his people to leave and we’re stuck in this decision.”
Mike Jennings, attorney representing the board, said there will be a point when all parties involved sign a memorandum of understanding, but that will be once more decisions are made.
“It wouldn’t be fair of us to ask them to commit when they don’t have any idea — we don’t have any idea, yet — what this project will look like,” Ashe said.
Ashe also urged the board to separate funding for the building project and necessary technology, as technology should be upgraded as needed and not bound to a multi-year bond, he said.
“I do not want to see technology bonded,” Ashe said. “I cannot emphasize that enough.”
The executive committee will meet again April 21 at 10 a.m. to further discuss options with building expansion. At that meeting, they hope to have the original architect of the 911 building to provide insight into the original construction of the building.
During her director’s report, Director Karen Moore updated the board on the current state of 911 affairs, which included the following:
• Calls are still being answered above national standards 99.96 percent of the time, which means calls are initially answered in less than one second. Moore said the need for co-locating has less to do with the initial answering and more to do with communications with other agencies after contact has been made with the caller.
• The 911 office still seeks a part-time employee. The ideal candidate will be proficient with computers and be able to multi-task with a large volume of calls. For more information, contact the 911 office at 615-449-3564.