LANCASTER — If area 911 officials are successful in securing an upcoming grant, it could be the solution for emergency-call-routing problems in the Hustonville area.
Bluegrass Area Development District is applying for an "extensive" grant that would fund, among other things, equipment upgrades for Casey County that would allow 911 calls to be routed properly through a Lexington network, Bluegrass 911 Director Russ Clark said.
911 calls made from phone numbers on the Hustonville-area 346 exchange are currently routed to Casey County dispatch instead of Bluegrass 911, which provides dispatch service for Lincoln and Garrard counties.
Approximately 1,300 phone numbers on the exchange are in Lincoln County, while 300 are in Casey County.
When Lincoln County 911 calls wind up in Casey County, the Casey dispatchers call Bluegrass 911 dispatchers to let them know what's going on.
Clark has been working for more than a year to fix the incorrect routing. He says it's causing unnecessary and potentially dangerous delays in emergency response.
The owner of the area's trunklines, Windstream Communications, wants to charge Bluegrass 911 close to $8,000 per year to route the calls properly, which Clark and others have likened to highway robbery.
As an alternative, Clark hopes to get Casey County to join the same 911-call-center network Bluegrass 911 is part of, Lexington-based Central Kentucky Phone Network.
Clark said Casey County Judge-Executive Ronald Wright is open to the plan, but the grant funding that would make the move financially attractive for Casey County isn't guaranteed.
"Judge Wright has at least agreed to sign a grant request," he said. "If we get that funding and he proceeds ... then the phone lines will be split in Lexington and Casey County will get their calls, we'll get the Lincoln County calls and it won't cost anybody any exorbitant amount of money."
Clark said if the grant is awarded, it has other benefits for Lincoln and Garrard counties, too.
Casey would be just one of several counties joining the network, which splits its operating costs between all of its members. More members means smaller slices of the operating-cost pie for everyone, including Bluegrass 911.
The Lincoln/Garrard call center would also receive $248,000 for a new phone system in the grant, Clark said.