After a spring and summer spent wrestling with budgets, the Monroe County Commission was overdue for a dull, standard meeting.
And they got one for August, though there was a little excitement when Monroe County E-911 Director April White came before the commissioners on Aug. 27, telling them she was having incredible problems with phone lines and outdated equipment.
“On Aug, 12,” she said, “AT&T phone lines went out. They fixed it quickly, but it happened again a couple of days later.”
When such a thing happens, you do not get a busy signal if you dial 911, White explained. Emergency calls roll over to McMinn County, but the non-emergency calls to the 423-442-4357 (HELP) line do not go anywhere.
“We have nothing to work with in situations like this,” White said. “At times the dispatchers have used their own cellphones to take calls. And now our contractor, who takes care of our equipment, has disappeared off the face of the Earth.”
White said Lewis Cartwright was the contractor, but his phone number no longer worked and when you went to his business site, it was shut down. White said she contracted with AT&T for $16,000 to fix some recent problems, after learning that replacing the entire phone service would cost $280,000.
“The dispatchers are supposed to be paid by the people they serve,” White said. “And that’s the people of Monroe County. We have no trouble getting money from the municipalities, but the county is only paying 31% of the 61% they should be paying after you all wouldn’t give me what I asked for in the budget.”
White also said radios are out of date and now they have no one to work on them and have had to resort to buying parts on eBay.
The commissioners did not offer any relief, but Commissioner Chad Lemming did say they should hold a workshop to discuss the problem, though one was not scheduled at least while commissioners were meeting on Aug. 27.
The County Commission also voted to have Dale Wilson serve as the 2nd District constable after the recent death of Charles Kennedy. Wilson will serve until the next election.