by Andrea Cole

Associate Editor

Stow -- The Stow Safety Center will serve as the home of a regional dispatch center for five cities in the Suburban Summit Council of Governments.

The dispatch center would be used for Stow, Munroe Falls, Tallmadge, Mogadore and Silver Lake, the five communities that have tentatively agreed to forming a regional dispatch center.

Tallmadge Mayor Chris Grimm said members decided to use the Stow Safety Center for dispatch services to save time.

"The room is set up for dispatchers," he said. "Because of the amount of equipment that is needed, we would have to invest a lot of money into building a new facility."

The COG will pay a leasing fee to Stow for the use of the dispatch center, but Stow Police Chief Louis Dirker said the amount each city would contribute has not been determined. He said the cost to each member community has not been set.

"Once we have a ballpark figure, then each community will need to figure out if they want to pay the costs," he said. "Each community will be able to opt out of the Council. More communities could join, as well."

While the member communities will combine dispatch services, he said Stow's dispatch staff of nine employees will remain the same.

"We have guaranteed our dispatch staff that no one will lose their job," said Dirker. "If someone leaves, we just will not replace the position."

Grimm said the nine members of the Tallmadge dispatch staff also will remain on board, and will move to the regional dispatch center when it opens.

The Council also has agreed to use an 800 megahertz radio system for the regional police and fire dispatch services, said Stow Mayor Karen Fritschel.

"We are still looking at costs," she said. "We want to make sure we are saving money. But, everything is still in the planning stages."

According to Grimm, the next step for the COG is to determine costs for the 800 megahertz system.

"This is the same system Summit County and Akron use," he said. "By going to the system, we will be able to work with them."

Dirker said he supports updating the radio system.

"The 800 system will allow us to contact Summit County," he said. "Right now, we have a VHF system, and the police and fire departments each have one channel. The 800 system will give us seven or eight channels. It's a very versatile system."

Grimm said he expects each member city to save approximately $500,000 annually by using a regional dispatch system.

"We have an optimistic goal of setting up by the end of the year," he said.

Fritschel said the next COG meeting is scheduled for Feb. 13 at 3 p.m. in Tallmadge City Hall, located at 46 N. Ave.

E-mail: acole@recordpub.com

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