TOULON, Ill. (WMBD) — The last remaining county in Illinois without a 911 system now has plans to develop one. More than $2 million dollars in state funding will help build a new emergency communications center in Stark County.
If you dial 911 on a cell phone in Stark County, more times than not, that call will be answered by a dispatcher outside of the area.
“That call goes to Lacon at the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office. They take the information, and then they call Stark County and give them the information. So there’s an inherent delay,” said David Tuttle, chairperson of Peoria Stark Joint Emergency Telephone System Board.
When that information is relayed, it isn’t always easy to pinpoint the location of an emergency. Stark County Sheriff Steven Sloan said this is especially true for some roads with two junctions.
“Trying to get to both to make sure where it is, it’s hard,” Sloan said.
Currently, Stark County does not have its own 911 system, but that is set to change. In the fall of 2021, the Peoria Stark Joint Emergency Telephone System Board was created.
“The State of Illinois approached Peoria County’s Telephone System Board a couple of years ago and asked if we would be interested in assisting Stark County in getting a 911 system,” Tuttle said.
Last week, the Joint Telephone System Board was approved for a $2.4 million dollar grant through the State of Illinois.
So now, there will be a new 911 emergency communications center at the Stark County Sheriff’s Office in Toulon. The 911 service includes features such as emergency medical dispatch and location identification.
“If a caller is not able to speak or has rolled over a tractor or something like that, then the dispatcher will be able to locate them where they’re at whereas now that’s not available,” Tuttle said.
Sloan said not only will the communications center bring Stark County law enforcement to a new level, but also safety for the community.
“Whenever you have a problem, we’re going to be there,” Sloan said.
Plans are to break ground on the communications center this fall and the center could become operational by the fall of next year.