Tuesday, March 5, 2013


UPDATE:  03/05/2013 AT 2:30 PM



The Request for Competitive Sealed Proposals for a Countywide Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) System for Stark County was designed around three Dispatch Centers in the County which are the Canton Communication Center, the Sheriff's Dispatch Center and the RED Center.

There are six other Dispatch Centers in Stark County which are CenCom, Alliance, North Canton, Minerva, Plain Fire and Perry Police.  

The County 9-1-1 Call Center does not use a CAD system.  Although the system was designed around three centers the other six would also have the ability to join.  The connectivity between all nine dispatch centers would be the same as the new Next Gen 9-1-1 connectivity.

The CAD bid (which is 90% software) consists of two parts; one, the CAD and Mobile Data Computer system; and, two a five year maintenance cost.

The plan is for the the County to pay for the CAD and Mobile Data system, however, the maintenance fee would be shar[e]d among those dispatch centers th[at] would connect to the system. 

After we determine which proposal is chosen, which will then identify the cost for 5 years of maintenance, we will then go first to the three dispatch centers and see if there is a desire to join.  We have yet to approach the other six dispatch centers because we don't know what it would cost for them to join.  As you know, no one will commit without knowing their annual cost.

The CAD Project Team which includes members of each of the three dispatch center along with our CAD Consultant and me are reviewing the vendor bids and hope to have a group of finalist (one to three) by the end of March.  

At that time we will have an idea of the costs for both the system and the maintenance fee.  We can then approach all the dispatch centers regarding their interest in being part of a countywide CAD System.



Commissioner Tom Bernabei

The Stark County commissioners have a daunting task in front of them.

How to spend $2.35 million in dedicated funds (i.e. though in the general fund, set aside) in the continuing effort to upgrade 9-1-1 emergency call receiving and emergency vehicle/personnel dispatch to Stark Countians in dire need of EMS, fire and police services?

Unfortunately, for the commissioners; no matter which choice they make, it is unlikely that the impact of spending the money will be all that apparent to Stark County taxpayers and citizens who use the county's EMS, fire and police emergency services.


Indeed!  In this day and age of heightened accountability, it is a very unhappy day for a public official to plow money into unseen, unfelt (by taxpaying consumers) but vitally essential infrastructure improvements.

Elected officials are likely to live or die politically at the hand of a public perception that they are/are not doing things that tangibly benefit the public.

Last Tuesday, 9-1-1 Project Manager Joe Concatto (former Canton fire chief and Creighton administration safety director) appeared before commissioners in one of their frequent work sessions (generally held at 10:00 a.m. on Monday and Tuesday in each week) to advocate (sort of) for them to agree to purchase a state-of-the-art Computed Aided Dispatch (CAD) system.

Sort of?

Yes, in the opinion of the SCPR.

While Concatto certainly would like to see a new CAD installed in Stark, he realizes that there are just so many dollars to go around and a key component for a successful CAD operation is to have all Stark County emergency services providers to also have state-of-the-art radio interoperability radio system.

And even the direction to go with the radios option is not quite as simple as buying enough state-of-the-art 800 mhz radios to ensure that each and every nook and cranny Stark County provider of emergency services are, so to speak, "on the same [radio] wave length."

North Canton and Canton Township have already signed on to the State of Ohio MARCS (Multi-Agency Radio Communication System - LINK).

MARCS is believed by many in the emergency services field to be the ultimate goal of integrated radio communication between and among all emergency forces within Ohio.

Another "this is the future" factor is that the State of Ohio has a State CAD system that many believe is where all State of Ohio political subdivisions (e.g. Canton, the Stark County sheriff's department, Nimshillen's CenCom and the like) are heading longterm.

The question is likely not if MARCS and the State of Ohio CAD system will one day reign supreme, but when.

It is the timing of the "when" (in terms of statewide integration of radios and CAD) that is the puzzler for local emergency forces and the commissioners; not the "if."

So there may be a need to do a Stark County CAD and/or upgrading of the Stark County 800 mhz radio system in order to have first rate emergency service in Stark even if longterm the answer is integrating with the State of Ohio because the "longterm" is not near enough.

So the order of the day for the financial efficiencies of Stark County-sited taxpayers (whether they be at the village, city or township levels) seems to be to the SCPR to not jump off in different directions but to hold the course until the efficiencies can be figured out.

But given "Good Ole Stark County" and its deep-seated territorialism, its turfism; one can depend on various local government agencies going off on a tangent (i.e. from the mainstream) and doing their own gig that may undermine the county effort as a whole.

But these mavericks line up for monies designated for Stark County as if they are looking at county well-being as a whole.

In all, there are six Stark County local governments (according to Concatto) who have strayed from a unified countywide fix to 9-1-1 in all of its aspects so as to facilitate Stark County's achieving a complete 9-1-1 system that is among, if not the absolute best in all of Ohio.

The divisions, The Report believes, started with Nimishillen Township which is both a touch ironic and logical.

Ironic in the sense that the SCPR believes that there once was a plan for Nimshillen's CenCom to be the King Kong of a revamped Stark County 9-1-1 system.

Logical that Nimishillen should separate from the countywide rehab if its CenCom could not dominate in the sense that:
  • the township had a huge mortgage on its CenCom building, and if it was not to be the core of the countywide effort (and impliedly generate for Nimishillen the funds needed to service its mortgage),
  • then Nimishillen had to compete with the countywide effort in order to make township financial ends meet.
Fire Chief Rich Peterson of Nimishillen originally back in the mid-2000s appears to The Report to have formed a political alliance with the-then Nimishillen trustee Todd Bosley to forge a political campaign for Bosley to become a Stark County commissioner, and from that perch shepherd a rebuild of what was widely believed to be a broken Stark County 9-1-1 system.

The Report believes that as part of the the Bosley/Peterson plan, Nimishillen's CenCom was to become the flagship site for the rebuilt, state-of-the-art Stark County 9-1-1 which would be headed up by guess who?  You've got it:  Rich Peterson.

By the way, Peterson denies that being the head of a repaired 9-1-1 was ever his objective.  However, the SCPR does not buy his denial.

Democrat Bosley was elected by a narrow margin over Republican Richard Regula (who in 2012 regained his office) and proceeded to talk fellow commissioners Tom Harmon (a Democrat) and Jane Vignos (a Republican) into imposing a 0.5% sales tax with the apparent objective of providing adequate, if not surplus monies, to bring 9-1-1 call receiving and dispatch up to state-of-the-art.

Longtime advocate for rehabbing 9-1-1 Randy Gonzalez  must have thought he died and went to heaven.

He is a key figure in the Stark County Council of Governments (SCOG) which commissioned a study in 2007/2008 on the state of repair/disrepair of Stark's 9-1-1.

He has been working about 20 years on improving Stark's 9-1-1 system.

However, he has had to come back to earth.

Stark Countians rose up in droves to repeal the tax in November, 2009 (under a movement led by local civic activist and attorney Craig T. Conley) and, of course, consequently Bosley was "political" toast as he moved off running for reelection as commissioner onto running for state representative for the 50th Ohio House District.

And in the jockeying between Peterson, RED Center director Mark Busto, the-then Canton safety director Tom Nesbitt and Concatto for the project directorship, Concatto won out probably as a compromise between Bosley and his political adversaries in the Stark County EMS, fire and police community.

A thing or two needs to be said for Bosley.

But for his action in convincing Harmon and Vignos to impose the December, 2008 0.5% sales tax on Stark Countians:
  • the county would not have a 9-1-1 system that is nearly in good a shape as it is now, and
  • the county would not have survived the financial crash as well as it did during the lean times of 2010 and 2011.
A strong reason - the SCPR is told by the proponents of the repeal of the imposed sales tax - that the repeal prevailed by a very, very large margin is that the tax included monies for Stark County's general fund which was facing hard times even when Bosley was commissioner.

The repeal proponents say, the campaign to retain the imposed sales tax:
  • focused exclusively on the 9-1-1 factor,
  • while not mentioning or, at the very least,downplaying the general fund revenue factor
  • which, they believe, enabled them to convince Stark Countians to reject continuing the tax.
In the interim, "you can depend on him to be a problem, if he is not in control of the finished product."

Depend on "him?"

Yes, "him" being, of course, Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II, who at first was a zealot for the 9-1-1 countywide fix, promising Canton's full cooperation.

However, when it became obvious that Canton was not going to dominate, he withdrew Canton's support for an all-out countywide 9-1-1 operation and has remained largely incommuicado with Gonazlez and Concatto on Canton's role ever since.

Another irony of Tuesday's commissioners' work session is that:
  • one of the alternatives 
    • (maybe even, the most likely alternative) 
  • for the spending of the $2.35 million 
    • (as communicated by former Canton police chief Dean McKimm - now the head of Canton's call receiving/dispatch center and who had with him John Whitlatch and Raymond Friedmann of the Canton Fire Department)  
  • would fix Canton's way-out-of-date CAD system were commissioners to select the CAD option.
Another stroke of good fortune for Mayor Healy?


Or, perhaps, another example of "what goes around, comes around" if the commissioners choose not to go with accepting a CAD bid?

Also weighing in on Tuesday last, was Mark Busto as head of the RED (Regional Emergency Dispatch) Center which serves much of western Stark County.  He had with him Assistant Director Jamie Wood also of the center.

Busto seemed equally satisfied whichever way the commissioners elect to go.

The RED Center, the Stark County sheriff's 9-1-1 center, and the City of Canton Communications Center each serve about 100,000 Stark Countians.  The rest of Stark County (about 78,000 according to the 2010 census) is served by a variety of smaller 9-1-1 centers.

The person in Stark County that the SCPR is most on top of what ought to be done with the $2.35 million is, in the opinion of The Report, Commissioner Tom Bernabei.

Bernabei sits on the board of SCOG (which provides funding for 9-1-1 and for the Stark County Crime Lab) and has devoted countless hours in trying to become informed on matters that play large into what direction Stark County should take in parsing out the $2.35 million.

As readers of the SCPR know, yours truly does not pass out many accolades to Stark County local government officials and political figures.

But Bernabei is an exception.

Stark Countians can feel assured that Bernabei will have done his homework by the time decision day arrives on dispensing the $2.35 million and that it is likely that Commissioners Janet Creighton and Richard Regula will have wisdom to follow his recommendation.

While The Report has had a difference or two with Bernabei, he remains responsive to yours truly's probing questions.

He presents a mature governmental/political figure model for the overly-sensitive and "I want to be unaccountable" types (all too many of them who populate Stark County government and politics), who clam up when the tough questions come.

In the video presented below,  Bernabei makes the following points bearing on what factors are in play as the commissioners contemplate how they will apply the $2.35 million:
  • follow SCOG's recommendation:
    • that the commissioners first apply the money to purchase a CAD system,
    • that any excess monies be used to purchase state-of-art 800 mhz radios (which cost about $4,000 each) to distribute throughout Stark County's emergency forces towards meeting an ultimate goal that everyone have an inter-agency-operable radio (i.e. between and among Stark County EMS, fire and police units),
    • on a RFP (request for proposal - about 165 pages in length) bid put out by the commissioners which generated 13 bids (about twice the size of the 165 page RFP) only one of which was from an Ohio based company, the committee formed to review the RFPs narrowed the field from which to select to three which bids (which include both the software and a five year maintenance coverage) came in at:
      • $2.109 million,
      • $2.15 million, and
      • $2.785 million; respectively
      • with the caveat that each Stark County entity (e.g. Canton, Stark County, the RED Center and other users) will be charged, if a CAD system is purchased, a fee for their proportional uses,
  • alternatively (as a possible disposition of the $2.35 million terms of holding on to it for the foreseeable future, perhaps, two to three years down the road), Bernabei discusses the possible financial benefit for Stark County to wait for Ohio's MARCS system to mature to NextGen and then Stark County upgrading some of its 10 transmission towers to allow MARCS to penetrate buildings so that it could be used by Stark's fire departments,
  • alternatively, holding the $2.35 million in 9-1-1 rainy day fund in order to be in a financial position to join in with the State of Ohio's CAD system when the timing in ripe
Here is a videotaped Bernabei SCPR interview wherein he reviews quite thoroughly the options that the commissioners are considering in making the soon forthcoming decision as to what to do with $2.35 million of Stark County taxpayer dollars.

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