MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

November 5, 2008

County 911 ballot measures pass

Muskogee County has made a big jump forward in emergency response technology, said proponents of 911 upgrades.

Tuesday, voters approved two 911 issues:

• To increase the monthly subscriber fee on each land line connection from 5 percent to 15 percent. It received 13,446 votes at 54.41 percent.

• To assess a 50-cent fee for cellular telephones with local access numbers. It received 15,787 votes at 63.68 percent.

County Commissioner Dexter Payne said he was elated.

“The citizens of Muskogee and Muskogee County really did themselves a big favor,” he said. “This will greatly speed the reaction time of emergency responders.”

Payne said the 911 system is in dangerously obsolete condition. Cell phone users have been at a disadvantage because their location is not automatically shown.

“Right now, outside Muskogee city limits, you have no 911 at all,” he said. “And, for years, cell phone users couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just call and get full 911 service.”

The added fees were not enough to deter voters, Payne said.

Muskogee Fire Chief Derek Tatum said the voters have handed the county something desperately needed.

“Two-thirds of Muskogee County does not have any kind of 911 service,” he said. “And there is none for wireless customers. This will put us right on the cutting edge if not ahead of the counties around us.”

Tatum said the clock is already ticking on installation of a new 911 system.

“We’ve got to have the system up and running within two years of collecting the fees,” he said.

Tatum said all cell phones now have Global Positioning System chips that give latitude and longitude, which will allow 911 operators to immediately locate a caller when the new system is completed. So far, cell phone callers have had to give their location verbally, assuming they were able.

Brian Coffey, 34, a machine operator, said he voted yes for 911 improvements after he did a quick read of the ballot.

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