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Lincoln City edging closer to joining Lincoln County’s consolidated 9-1-1 system?

Lincoln City’s small 9-1-1 dispatch center

Lincoln City city councilors have two issues coming together that might speed up Lincoln City joining Lincoln County’s consolidated 9-1-1 dispatch service, operated out of Salem.

First, by joining Willamette Valley Communications Center (WVCC), it could save Lincoln City up to $300,000 a year in dispatch costs, while at the same time being served by one of the most up to date high-tech dispatch operations in the state.

Secondly, the city is planning to replace its aging police station off East Devils Lake Road. Already in preliminary design, they’d like to know whether they’re going to have to continue making space for a 9-1-1 dispatch center, and if so, how much space?

Police Chief Steven Bachard told the council that WVCC is interested in having a standby 9-1-1 center on the coast that can serve Lincoln County in the event of a big earthquake, major winter storm or summer fire that might isolate both ends of the 9-1-1 system. WVCC said the back-up 9-1-1 center could be located anywhere along the paths of several fiber optic lines connecting the coast with the valley, and he’d like to have Lincoln City operate that back-up dispatch center from inside his new police building.

Bachard said that Lincoln County now has two fiber optic lines connecting the coast to the valley – one from Lincoln City along Highway 18 to Sheridan, another east on Highway 20 from Newport to Corvallis. Lincoln City and Newport were also recently connected by a fiber optic line running up and down Highway 101 between Lincoln City and Newport. Bachard said there are also radio microwave upgrades being installed that link the coast to the valley.

Bechard and City Manager David Hawker told the council that if Lincoln City could convince WVCC to pick them as their “coast backup center,” they could include the 9-1-1 facility within the new police headquarters building and maybe get a discount for 9-1-1 services from WVCC.

But there is also another element in all this. Toledo has also expressed an interest in becoming a back up 9-1-1 center in the event of a disaster. And with fiber linking Highway 20 to Lincoln City it might be possible, according to Bechard. However, Toledo has expressed no interest in joining with the WVCC consolidation trend to date.

At any rate, the council gave staff permission to pursue further negotiations with WVCC to see what the final costs might be to join the rest of the county served by WVCC. Theoretically it could lower the cost for those other Lincoln County emergency agencies that recently signed up for WVCC dispatch services, since the membership base would be expanded.

Financing the rest of the new Lincoln City police station was covered, but figures were very tentative and methods to pay for it too vague to hold anyone to any firm numbers. But it’s safe to say that the new police station, to be built near the old one, will be a multi-million dollar endeavor.

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