Debt free Communications Center reason to celebrate


Commission plans to move in, be operational and pay off all debts in 2019

By Juanice Gray,

It’s all over but the crying as the saying goes. But, it won’t be crying in 2019, it will be celebrating. Celebrating a decade of planning, budgeting and seeing a vision become a reality with the opening of the 911 Natchitoches Communications Center (NATCOM) facility. As the icing on the proverbial cake, the center should be paid in full by the end of that year according to Director Willis Carter.

Architect George Minturn said the final punch list is being completed and Carter and employee Bernice Wallace could be moved into the new facility by the second week of January. Not to dampen the spirits of those whom have followed the development of the 911 Commission from a meeting of the minds to construction of a central facility to house all emergency communications, but this does not mean everyone is ready to occupy the space.

There is still a fairly lengthy list of items that must be completed before it is ready for full occupancy including contracts for pest control and janitorial services among others, coordinating with all invested parties such as ambulance, fire and law enforcement to ensure a smooth transition, developing protocols for the shared space and installing the consoles and installing and testing the radio and communication systems. Carter said the office furniture, including desks, tables and chairs were in place.

Their cost was $38,666 with $29,773 of that reimbursed by the state. Appliances cost in excess of $15,000 with approximately $12,000 expected to be reimbursed. In addition, the work stations, or consoles, come at a cost of $147,000, however reimbursement is estimated at just over $60,500. One of the final furnishings to be in stalled are the dispatcher consoles. Proposals were accepted from three companies.

In past meetings, the commission said they could “piggyback” on Ascension Parish’s State bid deal as an option. “The proposals from Russ Bassett and Kay Radio were based on exactly the same dispatch furniture. The Kay Radio/Motorola quote was based on a pre-bid price done under State bid requirements by Ascension Parish. By soliciting three written proposals the District met the bid requirements,” Minturn said. “Russ Bassett has been notified that their proposal has been accepted. They have since provided the required information for the Performance and Payment Bond as required by the State. The contract is under review by the Communications District attorney.

The order will be placed upon his review and approval.” Delivery time after the order is placed is approximately eight weeks. Due to delays from weather, change orders and hiccups in construction, the contractor is over 30 days past the contracted completion date. Fees amounting to $100 per day were charged until the facility was recently declared “substantially complete.”Carter said work crews were on site this week to complete the final touches and should be complete before their 45 day deadline. Carter will meet with AT&T Dec. 26. “AT&T will be installing their Ciena service delivery switch which will allow access to the fiber cabling that will provide internet connections to the NATCOM facility,” he said. That will be followed on Dec. 27 by a kick-off call.

“The ‘Kick-off ’ call with AT&T is the first off cial discussion between our team and the team from AT&T who will actually cause the relocation of 9-1-1 call processing equipment to the new NATCOM facility. The two teams will discuss a number of topics including, but certainly not limited to, issues like what the effort will entail, delivery and storage of equipment, back-room requirements, call flow review with Motorola, the installation process to include starting and ending dates and the associated milestones along the way,” Carter said.

Meeting room furniture is in place for when the center fully

“It is basically to help us all better understand the various processes included in the relocation and enable us to establish goals and be able to better manage expectations. We will also discuss configurations and the associated training.” Once Carter, Wallace and OEP Director Mary Jones occupy their offices, the 911 staff will no longer accept walk-ins for address changes. They will be available at the Fire Central Station two mornings per week.

Carter assured commission members there would be no “down time” for emergency services during the move from current offices to the new NATCOM center. The fire, police and sheriff ’s department 911 centers will move one piece at a time, not the entire office at once for that reason.

“The public ought to be able to get help,” said Chairman and Police Chief Mickey Dove. Carter said there will be “no degradation of service” since their focus will be on uninterrupted emergency call taking and dispatch