Monday, August 20, 2012




Stark County government took an important step in providing "complete" emergency services to Stark Countians at the commissioners meeting of August 8th when Commissioners Bernabei, Creighton and Ferguson approved a resolution to ratify a "memorandum of understanding" (MOU) between Stark County and the non-profit Stark County United Way 2-1-1 Information and Referral Service.

Over time the agreement and its coordinating implementation should relieve the Stark County 9-1-1 emergency services call receiving function of the burden of receiving calls of a financial/social nature (of a "emergency" variety - but not a police, fire or EMS type emergency).

Sherri McKinney-Frantz (Stark County United Way Director of Information and Referral - LINK TO WEBSITE HERE) appeared (along with Stark EMA Director Tim Warstler) before commissioners asking for them to approve the memo referred to above.

Stark Emergency Management Agency Director Tim Warstler explained to commissioners that:
  • a primary benefit of the MOU is that if/when Stark County experiences a disaster,Stark EMA 9-1-1 will advertise to the Stark County public that 2-1-1 is the three digit number for citizens to call to get help for non-police, non-fire and non-EMT emergencies.
Quite a number of Stark Countians do not know about Stark United Way's 2-1-1 service (hence the SCPR's graphic indicating the service to be a "best kept secret), but as explained to the commissioners by Director McKinney-Frantz:  (see video below)
  • that the MOU will enable Stark's 2-1-1 to achieve national accreditation and enhance the non-profit agency's ability to attract and qualify for grants,
  • that 2-1-1 will serve the Stark County public in disasters by fielding questions such as "I don't have water," "My refrigerator is not working because I don't have electricity; Where can I get food" et cetera type inquiries,
  • that 2-1-1 has a list of about 800 sources (i.e. a database listing) to use in helping Stark Countians through emergency/disaster relief,
  • that 2-1-1 has expanded greatly within the last three years with its call volume nearly doubling,
  • that 2-1-1 is finding that "people who have never needed help before, need help now,"

The Stark County Political Report believes that Nimishillen Township Fire Chief Rick Peterson can claim credit for being the first in sidetracking the effort begun in 2009 to rebuild Stark County's "broken" 9-1-1 countywide emergency call receiving and call dispatching system.

It appears to The Report that Peterson was only going to endorse the rebuild if he was named the 9-1-1 project manager and his baby - Nimishillen's CenCom" was the core of the rebuild.  Peterson denies that he had any ambition to lead the reconstruction effort, but the SCPR is not buying it.

When Todd Bosley was Stark County commissioner, it was obvious that to The Report that Peterson, at least initially, was his man to head up the countywide effort.

When it became apparent that Nimishillen was not going to be the core and that the keystone role was to be borne by the Stark County sheriff and the city of Canton Communications Center, it seems that Peterson had no choice but to take his CenCom operation out of the mix for a countywide system.  Why?  Because Nimishillen owes about $1 million dollars on the building that houses CenCom and the only way for the Nimishillen trustees to be in a position to pay the mortgage CenCom has is to have its own base of Stark County fire departments, police departments and EMT services competing with an otherwise countywide system to generate the revenues with which to pay the mortage.

Once the forces (e.g. Randy Gonzalez (the primary person), Joe Concatto, Tom Bernabei) behind building a state-of-the-art countywide system factored Nimishillen out, guess what other "my way or the highway guy" surfaces to throw a roadblock into realizing a much better countywide system?

Who other than Canton mayor William J. Healy, II!  A man who takes great pride in insisting that things be done his way or not at all.

Accordingly, it was amazing to hear from Gonzalez last week that the commissioners are at least taking the step of putting out bids for a computer-aided-dispatch (CAD) system.

So though Peterson and Healy have been troublesome to 20 year or so o the tGonzalez-led effort, The Report believes in persistence and endurance as good attributes in overcoming those who like to protect self-interests.

The Report encourages Gonzalez to keep the effort going.

Persistence and endurance may one day be fruitful in bringing Stark County a true countywide state-of-the-art 9-1-1 emergency services call receiving and call dispatching center!


A Stark County Political Report "HATS OFF!" to Directors Warstler and McKinney-Frantz and to the Stark County commissioners as well as the Stark County United Way for putting this project together.

Here is a video of the commissioners session with Warstler and McKinney-Frantz.

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