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Stark County to get a 911 system, thanks to a $2.4M state grant

220712 dispatch center.jpg
Cass Herrington
WCBU, file
Next year, Stark County residents will start to receive the same level of 911 service that's currently provided in Peoria County. The Peoria-Stark Joint Emergency Telephone System Board has been awarded a $2.4 million state grant for an enhanced 911 system in Stark County, the last county in Illinois without one.

A recently approved state grant will bring an enhanced 911 emergency system to Stark County, the last remaining county in Illinois without one.

The $2.4 million award will cover the costs of implementing the system and constructing an Emergency Communications Center at the Stark County Sheriff’s Office in Toulon.

“Basically, Stark County will have the same 911 service that Peoria County residents have today,” said David Tuttle, chair of the Peoria-Stark Joint Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB). “We're going to construct them a building that is modern, that is safe for their 911 telecommunicators. We're going to provide them with the radios, the computers, the phone equipment to provide 911 services for all of Stark County.”

Currently, 911 calls originating from Stark County are routed through neighboring counties. Sheriff Steve Sloan said having a system of their own that’s able to receive both phone calls and text messages will greatly improve their services.

“It’s going to help Stark County out tremendously, because right now we just have regular 911 and we don't always know where they're calling from,” said Sloan. “This way with e-911, we’ll know exactly where they're calling from, because we'll have wire line, wireless and text calls to 911.

“It will also include an identification mapping system and emergency medical dispatch. This is going to pinpoint right where they're calling from, so we'll know and it'll be a faster response time for us.”

Sloan said he’s been trying to get the 911 system since he took office in 2016. The county boards from both counties approved formation of the joint ETSB last fall, leading to submission of a consolidated grant request that was approved by the Office of the 911 Administrator last week.

“For the past seven or eight years, the State of Illinois has been working to get Stark County associated with another county to provide 911 service, and pretty much all of the counties around them said that they just were not in a position to do that,” said Tuttle, who is also chief of the Logan-Trivoli Fire Protection District.

“Peoria County has had an Emergency Telephone System Board since 1989 (and) this allows Stark County and Peoria County to work together, with Peoria County really being the lead.”

Sloan said it could take “12 to 18 months or maybe longer” until Stark County’s system is in place and running, a sentiment shared by Tuttle.

“If we didn't have a nationwide and worldwide supply chain issue, I would say that we would hope to be up and running by the fall of 2023,” said Tuttle. “At this point in time, that is still our goal. But with supply issues for construction and electronic equipment, that may extend that just a little bit longer.”

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.