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— Benton County will have an emergency telephone notification system as early as January.

Bids for implementing the system that will automatically call Benton County residents in the event of an emergency were due at 10 a.m. Monday. At that time, county officials were to select a company for the project, County Judge Dave Bisbee said.

The county will pay for the telephone notification system’s implementation and first year’s expenses by using a $100,000 grant received from the Department of Homeland Security During that time, the cities will be allowed to use the system, MarshalWatson, the county’s former director of emergency management, said.

Watson was responsible for getting the bidding process started.

After the end of the first year, cities will be asked to chip in for their share of the system if they would like to continue to use it, Watson said, noting that the cities’ shares will be calculated on a per capita basis.

Justice of the Peace James Wozniak was charged with researching various telephone notification systems for the city of Bella Vista when he was their police chief. Wozniak is in favor of the county adopting a telephone notification system.

“Everybody knows it (the telephone notification system) is out there. At this point, it is just a dollars and sense thing to see which company we go with,”Wozniak said.

. The system must be able to automatically make phone calls to residents who could be affected by a life threatening situation such as a tornado warning.

Benton County was pursuing such a system earlier this year when Bisbee and his staff chose to use the money earmarked for the system to install security cameras in the County Administration Building instead.

The decision to use grant money for a project other than a telephone notification system came as a result of the providers unwillingness to provide the county with a database of telephone numbers, Bisbee said.

“We just got into a Catch-22 with going up against our grant deadline so we have had to drop back and educate ourselves,” Bisbee said. “Of course, still being a novice at the job, I just went ahead and did whatI did. I guess I should not have done that.”

Bisbee hopes to have the emergency telephone notification up and running in late January or early February, he said.

News, Pages 6 on 12/23/2009

Print Headline: Judge Bisbee Hopes County May Install Emergency Notification System By February

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