The long-awaited transition is complete, and as of last week, Wright County has its own emergency response call center.
The Wright County Emergency Communications Center in Mountain Grove – know as Wri-Comm 911 – “went live” at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31. Director Jeff Holman said things are going about as would be expected for a new 911 dispatch operation.
“It’s going good,” Holman said. “We’re having a few minor issues, but we have a technician working on them, and it’s nothing that’s keeping us from being operational.”
Wri-Comm 911 has a staff of 14 people, including Holman, a technical manager and 12 dispatchers. Holman said there will be two dispatchers on duty 24/7.
Wright County officials decided in 2012 to end a long-standing partnership with Texas County for the two-county “Wri-Tex 911” operation. Since then, citizens in both counties have approved a sales tax to fund 911 centers, with Texas County voters giving their approval in April 2013 and Wright County citizens approving the idea a year later.
During the months after Wri-Tex 911 had been dissolved and the Wri-Comm 911 center was still being built and readied for action, Texas County 911 (which took its first call in August 2015) continued providing dispatch services to Wright County for a fee.
“We tried to be a good neighbor and keep them afloat,” said Texas County Presiding Commissioner Fred Stenger.
Stenger said Wri-Comm 911’s independence presents an opportunity for the seven-member Texas County Emergency Services board of directors.
“It’s going to have some bugs to work out, but this will be a good thing,” he said. “We’re hopeful it will free up a lot of time for our call center, and I’m hopeful a lot of that time will be spent on emergency response training for our people, which would make the staff better.
“Of course, those decisions will be made by the board, but if I were asked for my recommendation, that’s what it would be.”
Holman said the bottom line is that citizens of Texas County and Wright County can count on good 911 services.
“This has been a long journey,” he said. “But we’re glad to be up and running. No one should really notice any difference – 911 calls will still be handled, they’ll just be handled on a local basis.
“This will be a good thing in the long run.”