911 center 1

Lawrence County 911 telecommunications supervisor Michael Stout works at a dispatch computer behind a neon light sign inside the new 911 dispatch center.

An upgrade to the county's fiber network for public safety communication will enable better communications between Lawrence and Mercer counties.

The commissioners at their regular meeting Tuesday approved a contract of $155,274 with Mission Critical Partners LLC of Port Matilda to oversee the fiber network project, which also will make for better connections with Fayette and Washington counties. 

The upgrades will enhance the existing fiber network for the delivery, processing and dispatching of 911 calls through the region's shared-call handling, computer-aided dispatch and radio systems. The project will improve the reliability and diversity of the existing EISnet —  Emergency Services Internet Protocol Network, which is capable of connecting calls, texts and other forms of media from the public to 9-1-1 public safety answering points.

Lawrence County public safety director Jeff Parish explained the plans, saying that the fiber expansion project, which will be among all counties in the Region 13 of southwestern Pennsylvania, will enhance the communications. The entire project is expected to cost $762,600. Lawrence County's cost will be about $458,000, he said.

Brian Melcer, Lawrence County's former 911 and public safety director, now works for Mission Critical Partners. He also attended the meeting and explained that the firm oversaw a similar fiber upgrade project last year in Somerset County. His firm would put together a request for proposals to prepare the fiber, and it would manage and oversee the project, he said.

The funds for the project are through a competitive grant, Parish said.

The commissioners in a separate action approved BearCom of Dallas, Texas, to maintain various communication systems in the county's Department of Public Safety.

The one-year agreement will begin Jan. 1, 2019, at a cost of $4,154 per month.

In other technology matters, the commissioners approved the hiring ESRI Canada Limited of Toronto to provide services to convert, geo-reference and verify parcel sketches for existing orthographic imagery.

Lawrence County assessor J.R. Hardester explained that the company will overlay current sketches of properties and that the overlays will help detect new construction or changes to properties.

"It will make sure people are paying their fair share of taxes," he said.

Hardester said he had obtained quotes from about five companies and that ESRI was the lowest. 

"I think it's a good idea," Commissioner Robert Del Signore commented.


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Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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