Council: Don’t close communication centers

Published 1:10 am Wednesday, April 24, 2013

With no discussion, Washington’s City Council on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution opposing Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposal to close three N.C. State Highway Patrol communication centers and consolidate their operations with the remaining communication centers. Among the communication centers targeted for closure is the one in Williamston.

Mayor Pro Tempore Bobby Roberson made the motion to approve the resolution. Councilman Edward Moultrie seconded the motion.

Before the motion was made and vote taken, City Manager Josh Kay informed the council and mayor about the nature of the resolution.

“You have a resolution concerning the closing of the North Carolina Highway Patrol communication center. The Williamston Highway Patrol communication Troop A currently is in the governor’s budget as well as working its way through the state General Assembly to close that. This resolution opposes that measure, and it is offered for your consideration,” Kay said.

Closing the Williamston center would result in most of its employees being terminated, according to memorandum Kay sent to the mayor and council members before Monday’s meeting.
“This resolution requests that our State legislators maintain Troop A Communications in Williamston as well as centers in Asheville and Greensboro in order to preserve this valuable local resource in and around our community,” Kay wrote in the memorandum.
The resolution notes that the Williamston center handles about 600 calls a day as it serves 180 troopers who cover 20 counties, many of them along the North Carolina coast. It also notes the Williamston center has been remodeled and upgraded to house the latest telecommunications technology and equipment.
The resolution notes the center is a “key employment center for our neighboring county” and “there is a concern that lives will be lost, due to delayed response time caused by operators in a
communication center centralized in Raleigh becoming overloaded and being unfamiliar with the area.”

Asked last week about how the closings and consolidations may affect response times by troopers, Pam Walker, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety, said, “No, we don not any impact on response times.”
Walker addressed the proposed closings.
“This is in the governor’s budget, and out department support’s the governor’s budget,” Walker said Friday. “There were some difficult decisions that had to be made, but it was about efficiencies. This was just a decision that was made. … It was about being able to efficiently run operations, and technology has enabled us to make some decisions that allow us to operate more efficiently.”

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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