911 Director tenders resignation

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By Juanice Gray, jgray@natchitochestimes.com, 318-352-3618 ext. 218

911 Director Willis Carter brought those attending the 911 Commission meeting Tuesday, Oct. 20 to their feet amid a round of applause. It wasn’t for what he did or said, but for the work he has done for the past 10 years. Carter submitted his letter of resignation to Commission Chair John Wynn Oct. 12. The effective date of Jan. 1, 2021, is pursuant to his 60-day notice of termination as stated in his contract. Carter stated in his letter he would be willing to extend the date to July 1 of next year to assist in the search of his replacement along with his regular duties.

The commission voted unanimously to retain Carter until July stating his expertise in the systems, equipment and staff were invaluable in finding his replacement. Former Sheriff Victor Jones was a guest at the meeting, having served during the entirety of Carter’s tenure until this year. He said, “The hard work has been done. You have laid the groundwork for the one who comes after you.”

Chief Micky Dove said simply, “Thank you” and OEP Director Mary Jones, as well as the remainder of the commission voiced their appreciation for the job Carter has done. John Nicholas stated his successor would have “…big shoes to fill.”

Carter advised the commission that although the NATCOM center came to fruition during his tenure, the work has just begun. “There are many different ways of processing 911 calls, not all work well. Do not take a step back. Do everything you can to promote 911 and keep the systems current.” He said there was much work left to do on the mapping systems. “Those need to evolve and be updated as the technology advances.”

Carter said the call center received a total 2,357 calls in September. Of those, 1,908 were answered by NPSO and 449 by NPD.

CLECO has stepped up to relocate an emergency siren in Campti that is 20.5 feet on private property owned by Frank Gill. The owner expressed he was not interested in receiving payment in lieu of removing the siren. CLECO will move the siren onto Town of Campti property . The Commission will procure the necessary parish permits for the move.

Carter gave a report on the effects of Hurricanes Laura and Delta. The backup power, Toshiba Uninterrupted Power Supply, or UPS, was carrying the entire system. The generator had not kicked on, indicating commercial power was available. NATCOM did lose all critical communications systems, including 911, radio, telephones and internet at one point. Calls were rerouted to neighboring parish systems as per protocol until the system was reinstated a short time later. Carter said measures were taken to mitigate this in the future.

The center is looking at alternative sources for television service due to CP-Tel discontinuing that service. Commissioner John Richmond said the Parish is in the same situation and is looking into Hulu or Roku alternatives as well as other service providers. He said the Hulu and Roku “sticks” operate multiple televisions and could operate off CP-Tel’s internet feed already in place. Television service is used at the center to stream live weather feeds as well as other information.

The district has applied for capital outlay funding for upgrades to the current emergency power system and implementation of a staging area for personnel and equipment during events such as the recent hurricanes.

Commission members were excited to finally put the issue of an improperly outfitted door to bed. The door has plagued the facility for months. It did not meet specifics as detailed in the work order. The icing on the cake, according to Carter, was when the replacement door finally arrived recently, it was the wrong door. The shippers had inadvertently shipped the NATCOM center door to Canada, and a door intended for Canada to Natchitoches. The doors were exchanged and the proper door installed at long last.

The next regular meeting will be Nov. 17.