911 board discusses interim director

Published 2:55 pm Thursday, April 6, 2023

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

The Chilton County 911 Board discussed the possibility of naming Trae Caton, who works part-time for the department as a radio network manager, the interim director during a work session on April 6.

A vote on Caton taking the position temporarily is expected to be made at the April 12 meeting of the board at 4:30 p.m.

“I do not want this permanently,” Caton said. “I cannot take this permanently. It would not be fair to the dispatchers. It would not be fair to the board. It would not be fair to the citizens. It would not be fair to these two (assistant director Kelly Smitherman and training coordinator Danielle Stroud).”

Caton will be serving for the same amount of money he is currently making. Chairman Jimmie Hardee said this was what Caton wanted.

Smitherman said she was “fully onboard” with Caton serving as interim, and she stated some of the dispatchers have made similar comments. Chief Erick Smitherman said this “speaks volumes to this board I think.”

“For all of them to be on board to help him, then you are going to have a board that works together,” Erick Smitherman said.

Naming an interim was discussed as a way to have good leadership, while the board develops a job description and a selection committee is established.

“Let’s get this thing headed in the right direction,” Caton said. “Take our time, find the right person, internal, external, whoever it may be, and then take our time hiring. That is the biggest thing I have heard, ‘We don’t need to just come in here and appoint someone.’”

The existing job description for the director will be sent to the 911 board for tweaking. Clanton Mayor Jeff Mims recommended Caton, Smitherman and Stroud develop a committee that will interview the director candidates. Then a recommendation would be brought to the 911 board.

Other members of the committee agreed this would be a good plan. Caton said staff from other 911 centers have already reached out willing to help by sharing their job descriptions.

“We have to have someone that is going to keep up with technology,” Hardee said. “We have to have someone that is going to keep up with training. We got to make sure we have someone with vision.”

Caton said he wants to see whoever is hired as director to be someone who will be committed to Chilton County long-term, not just as a place to work to gain experience before working somewhere else.

The interim director also needs to be named as head of agency in the administration software.

Smitherman and Stroud gave the board several updates on how the department was doing after the departure of 911 director Terra Scott. Both will be attending free training in North Carolina next month. Smitherman said they have had help from the state 911 board. Hardee said cross training of employees is important moving forward.

The need to have a credit card for 911 was discussed, since the previous card had been in Scott’s name. Smitherman said she was all right with having a card in her name to be used for 911. Rex Bittle, who was representing Jemison at the meeting and works in the banking industry, said the card needed to belong to the 911 department, and Smitherman made an authorized user. Bittle agreed to assist the department with this and some other bank account-related things.

Interviews have been completed for a dispatch position, and the board discussed that this could be authorized as an emergency hire. The need to authorize someone to hire personnel without having to have it approved by the board each time to keep from losing top candidates was discussed.

Also during the meeting, Caton presented a contract renewal for fiber internet with AT&T, which would be $100 cheaper per month than the current contract.