Douglas County Commission approves switching to new 911 system

photo by: Mike Yoder

The Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 111 E. 11th St.

The Douglas County Commission approved Wednesday a request from the county emergency dispatch director that the county switch to the Mid-America Regional Council 911 system.

Randy Roberts, county emergency communications director, recommended the county switch from its current stand-alone 911 system to one offered through MARC. Also considered in a departmental review of 911 options was a switch to a newly upgraded state system.

Roberts said the MARC system had an extremely reliable record in the 35 years it has served cities and counties in the Kansas City metropolitan area, whereas the state was experiencing difficulties with its new system. MARC offered the further advantage of established ties, such as the county having its emergency backup 911 site in the Johnson County emergency communications center that is a MARC system member.

The annual cost of the county’s current system is $244,000 to $264,000, Roberts said. The yearly cost of the MARC option would be $300,000, and the annual cost of the new state system would initially be $260,000. However, the state was planning a cost increase that would make its cost equal to MARC’s annual cost. Another cost consideration was that once the county was a part of its system, MARC would provide the county with system upgrades at no cost.

The change would be made in September or October and would be seamless for county 911 users, Roberts said.

In other business, commissioners approved a conditional use permit application from O’Connell Youth Ranch to operate an event center at its North 1320 Road site. The ranch is on the southeast edge of Lawrence. The ranch will renovate a barn to host reunions, weddings, receptions and other special events for up to 218 guests.