Neighboring counties inquire about using new 911 system being built in Centre County

Centre County Administrator Tim Boyde said it’s possible the new Centre County 911 system also could serve one or more neighboring counties in the future.

At least one neighboring county had conversations with Commissioners Chris Exarchos and Michael Pipe at the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania conference about linking up with the new Centre County system upgrade that cost more than $20 million.

Pipe said he had a very short, preliminary conversation with a commissioner from Huntingdon County about possibly sharing the system and bringing some money back into Centre County. He said it could be a viable way to recoup some costs from the upgrade.

Construction and radio testing are ongoing, but the new system is expected to be online before the end of the year at last report.

Exarchos said he also had a conversation with a neighboring county, which he declined to name, but said he would support the agreement if reasonable terms are met.

“It’s going to be a win-win for both sides,” he said.

Some follow-up meetings will take place in the coming weeks, and no terms have been discussed yet. Exarchos said.

Boyde added there is a possibility that more than one county share the system instead of multiple counties paying large amounts of money to own individual 911 systems.

“I think the potential is there,” he said. “The switches that we installed in our system have the ability to handle an additional load”

He said every county wants to have its own system. However, like prisons, it’s not necessarily a necessity.

The conference in Erie also provided opportunities for Boyde, Exarchos and Pipe to network with other counties and bring back ideas that can be implemented locally.

Boyde said he spent much of his time speaking with other county representatives about their prison systems, getting information on recidivism programs, food systems, commissaries and bringing prisoners in from other counties on a rental basis.

He also spoke with other counties about their nursing home systems in the wake of the decision to transition Centre Crest to a public nonprofit format. The trend in county nursing home decisions in the past two decades has been sales, and Boyde said that continues to be the case.

But, he said at least two counties are considering the public nonprofit transition — though, an eventual sale is more likely in both cases.

Pipe attended breakout sessions on how counties are planning to deal with legislative issues like the Affordable Care Act and the Child Welfare Act. He also spoke with many other commissioners who were talking about selling their county’s nursing home, letting them know about other options like the public nonprofit.

He voted against the change, but said it’s a better option than a sale.

Exarchos used his time attending smaller breakout meetings and networking with commissioners from other counties.

He said the process of meeting with others and exchanging ideas is critical when running a county.

“It’s very crucial,” he said. “You can’t run the county by sitting in your office.”