Friday, October 1, 2010


UPDATE:  10/01/2010 AT 12:01 AM


Martin a few comments about your blog on September 28, 2010, regarding the County’s 9-1-1 Project:

First, let me be clear that the Countywide 9-1-1 Dispatch Center Plan is not a one man operation led by one person.  This project is governed by a Governance Board which is a sub-committee of the Stark Council of Governments (SCOG).  The Governance Board has eighteen members with representation from the Stark County Fire Chief’s Association, the Police Chief’s Association, the Sheriff, small townships, large townships,  the Criminal Justice Information System, Stark County Government, SARTA, the City of Canton, the public and each of the larger dispatch centers in the County including CenCom.   SCOG has representation from each of the 37 government entities in the County.   All policy and procedures, budgetary issues, spending of funds and direction of the project must be approved by the Governance Board and if required sent on for approval from SCOG.

The countywide Computer Aided Dispatch system and budget was one of those projects that were approved by both the Governance Board and SCOG.  The selection process for this project was the responsibility of the CAD Project Team which is an adhoc (sic) committee of the Governance Board.   This Team consisted of the Director of the RED Center, the Louisville Fire Chief, a Captain on the Alliance Police Department, the Director of Computer Systems for the Stark County Sheriff, the Applications Development Administrator for the City of Canton, and me. 

It is important to note that the new IP based 9-1-1 system is a completely private deployed intranet network that is closed off to the public with virtually no access to the system.  The System is monitored 24/7 365 days a year and has additional security built into the system by both AT&T and Plant CML. 
Our project is driven by the new technology that will be put into this Center.  The new IP based 9-1-1 system is scheduled for May of 2011 and the Countywide CAD system will take at least 18 months.  While these technologies are being developed we continue to move forward toward one Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) in two locations.  This Plan brings to the County a more efficient and cost effective countywide dispatch center.  It represents regionalization of county services which is paramount in today’s economy.

The recent incident regarding a downed aircraft is an example of why we should have one center.  This technology would be put into one center and not nine.
Presently the county is paying approximately 6.4 million dollars for dispatching in the county.  The plan is to reduce this cost by 2 million dollars.  We would use the same user fee process that is presently be used in the county but at a lower rate for most users.

The 2.75 million dollars held by the Stark County Commissioners is appropriated to the Countywide 9-1-1 project regardless if it is transferred to SCOG or not.

My motivations are not driven by a higher pension but by a sincere desire to see our county improve on an antiquated county dispatch system that has been described as a disaster waiting to happen.  It is easy for someone to step on another’s character to enhance his ego; I think that’s called lack of character.


A well known saying is:  "hindsight is 20/20."  In the case of the person that the Stark County Council of Governments (SCOG) Governance Committee selection of a project manager it may be that the saying is in for revision:  "both foresight and hindsight are 20/20."

In mid-March, 2009 SCOG selected former Canton fire chief and Creighton administration official over Nimishillen Township Fire Chief Rich Peterson as project manager to oversee the consolidation of Starks 11 centers (including the Stark County Sheriff's call center) into one center with a backup.

The contest between Concatto (as a substitute for preferred choice Tom Nesbitt - former safety director for Canton's Healy administration) and Peterson was intense with a lot of political maneuvering going on.

For the SCPR, at the time of the selection, it was unclear who would be the better choice.  But that was not the case for SCOG Governance Committee chair Randy Gonzalez.  He was adamantly opposed to Peterson from the get-go and it turns out - in the opinion of The Report - that Gonzalez had better insight as to which choice would be best for Stark County in the end.

The wisdom of Gonzalez's choice became even more apparent to The Report this past Thursday night as yours truly engaged Rich Peterson in a discussion of the progress of reconfiguring Stark's 9-1-1 while at Nimishillen Township Hall on another matter.

The SCPR believes - in hindsight - that Peterson is proving himself a "sore loser" and doing what he can to make the remake of Stark's 9-1-1 as difficult as possible.  David Scheurer writing for The Repository on September 25th (Nimishillen Township meeting for September 24) wrote:

In the ensuing discussion,  Peterson had these raps on the Concatto-led 9-1-1 reform effort:
  • The $160,000 allocated to selected a CAD system is a waste of money.  Something, Peterson says, was done in Nimishillen by in-house people with the capability to assess the quality of competing systems.  He says Stark County could do the same.
  • Because the Stark system is Internet based, the Stark 9-1-1 is susceptible to being hacked by computer hackers and put out of commission.  The better system would be to have a hybrid system (a mix of Internet based and non-Internet).  Under a hybrid system, the system would be much more secure.
  • Concatto (much older than Peterson and who makes about $75,000 annually) will not be the project manager much longer because his primary reason for wanting the position was to beef up his retirement benefits. 
  • Who knows when Stark's 9-1-1 consolidation will be up and running.  Had the county gone with "the Peterson Plan," the system would fully functioning at a much cheaper cost.
  • There have been two recent incident (one involving locating a downed aircraft) which Stark's EMA could not locate, but which Nimishillen's CenCom can and did locate.
  • The county has no financial plan to support the redone countywide 9-1-1 dispatch long term.
  • The $2.75 million held by the Stark County commissioners cannot be transferred to SCOG.
It is apparent to the Stark County Political Report that Rich Peterson is the "go to" guy in Nimishillen and obviously has the trustees (except maybe Allen Gress) in thrall.

As long as Rich Peterson is fire chief in Nimishillen Township, there is virtually no chance that CenCom will be merged into the Stark's countywide 9-1-1 system.

Undoubtedly, had Peterson be chosen as project manager; he would be singing an entirely different tune, no?

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