The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 23, 2013

Townships scramble for dispatch service

Staff Writer

— Townships that will lose fire dispatch service in the next few months are continuing to reach out to other agencies for help, officials said Friday.

Representatives from three townships met this week with Conneaut City Council to discuss options. Meanwhile, the representatives are scheduled to sit down next week with Ashtabula County Sheriff William Johnson.

“We’ll meet and see what we need to do,” Johnson said Friday.

At issue is Ashtabula Township’s decision to cease dispatching service for fire departments in North Kingsville and Kingsville, Monroe, Sheffield and Andover townships. Contracts officially expire at the end of the year, citing money constraints. Ashtabula Township will continue the service several weeks into 2014, according to reports. Ashtabula Township collects $5,800 annually from each of its clients for dispatch service, officials have said.

On Wednesday night, officials from Kingsville and Monroe attended Conneaut council’s public safety committee meeting to discuss the dispatch situation. City administrators made no promises but promised to research the matter.

“We’re looking at options,” Conneaut City Manager Tim Eggleston said after the meeting.

Conneaut officials made no commitments, said John Griggs, Monroe Township trustee at the meeting.

“We brought (dispatching) up to them,” he said. “They were trying to figure out what they can do. They sound like they’re willing to help. They were also glad to hear we have until March (before Ashtabula Township bows outs).

“Conneaut seems to be our best bet,” Griggs said. “I’m hoping things work out.”

Kingsville Township Fire Chief Neal Stewart said he has pursued every option so far except Community Care ambulance service. Saybrook Township has declined to take on additional dispatching duties, he said.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Stewart said.

In North Kingsville, Mayor Terry McConnell says he has spoken to Eggleston about dispatch and wants to talk to Geneva leadership. Conneaut promised to study the situation, McConnell said.

The sheriff’s department will do everything in its power to assist, Johnson said about the his upcoming meeting with the affected townships.

“We need to see what they need,” Johnson said. “We’re not going to leave them in the cold.”