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Dispatch center closes doors, moves to Condon

Tri-Com becomes Frontier Regional 911 Agency, serving four counties
After operating a 911 dispatch center for decades, Jefferson County shut the doors on its center at the sheriff's office on Oct. 31.
   The county has joined forces with Tri-County Communications -- serving Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler counties -- which will become Frontier Regional 911 Agency.
   April Stream, who headed up Jefferson County's dispatch for 32 years, is the supervisor at the facility in Condon, nearly 90 miles northeast of Madras.
   The local center's four remaining employees, Luke Huskey, of Culver, Amy VanDonk, of Terrebonne, Donna Schults, of Prineville, and Penny Leith, of Prineville, have found other positions, or, in the case of Leith, have retired, according to Sheriff Adkins.
   The consolidation was necessary because of skyrocketing costs, which would have affected all users: the ambulance and fire districts, cities, and county.
   In the case of the city of Madras, for example, without consolidation, the current budget was $85,294, expected to rise to $105,470 next year. With consolidation, the budget is estimated at $47,900, rising to $50,511 next year.
   "It means that I don't have to lay off a patrol deputy to keep 911 going," said Adkins. "It means the county doesn't have to put in money this year from the general fund; and it means that all the users fees are going to be reduced."
   In Oregon, 911 dispatch centers are primarily funded by a 75 cent per month, per subscriber, tax on devices that are capable of accessing the emergency number.
   The taxes collected are distributed to the state's 240 cities and 36 counties. Although distribution is based on population, no county receives less than 1 percent, which means even the smallest counties receive about $280,000.
   With a total population of about 5,000, the three counties that make up Tri-Com receive about $840,000 -- more than Jefferson County's entire dispatch budget of $721,705 for the fiscal year ending June 30.