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E-911 offers better communication

By Staff | Dec 31, 2008

Out of all his accomplishments as sheriff, Clay Hupp is most proud of providing countywide emergency radio communications with the installation of brand new radio towers.

“Probably the most significant thing has been being able to acquire funding for those two communications towers,” said Hupp.

Before becoming sheriff, Hupp was a sergeant with the West Virginia State Police, based out of the St. Marys barracks. Hupp remembers working calls in Tyler County and wondering whether he could get a hold of back up via radio.

“When I first started in the state police in 1978, if myself or another trooper or a deputy was in the area of Indian Creek, Deep Valley, and even some places closer to Middlebourne, you might as well have rolled down the window and yelled for help; that’s how bad communication was then,” remembered Hupp. “You can ask any fireman and any law enforcement officer how much those new towers have improved our communications. I think we’d get an A-plus rating on that.”

Through a $193,000 Homeland Security Grant, Hupp started construction on a new communication tower in Sistersville. Prior to the new modern tower, the county used a 50-foot TV antenna, which provided communications for half of the county.

Through an $183,252 grant from the Public Service Commission, Hupp was able to replace the tower at Klondike. While the Klondike tower was only slightly in better condition than the Sistersville tower, it’s location made it difficult to establish communication. The old Klondike tower was replaced with a state-of-the-art tower, which was relocated to property owned by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.

Both are secured by 8-foot wire chain link fences topped off with barbed wire to discourage intruders. As a result, the county now has dependable emergency communications, allowing law enforcement and emergency services to be able to communicate with each other and central dispatch.

“If it provides better communication for (an ambulance) to save one life, then it’s all worth it,” said Hupp. “This is something that will last for years and years and for many sheriffs down the road.”

The towers are not only a blessing for emergency first-responders, but also for telecommunications. Cellular phone companies often rent or lease space on emergency communication towers. This allows more people to own and use cell phones and wireless laptops. Such communications resources open up small communities to business growth.

“What we’ve done is set the stage; we laid the infrastructure out to help the county for years and years and years to come,” remarked Hupp.

Hupp, also serving as 911 Director, has made several upgrades to the center. With the county jail closing and county inmates being transported to the North Central Region Jail in Doddridge County, Hupp converted part of the jail to create a county 911 center, named for Don Spencer. He also upgraded to E911 technology and worked with the County 911 Committee to provide higher wages to dispatchers.

While Hupp may not be sheriff after the new year, the fruits of his labor will continue to bounce off through the hills, like radio waves, for many years.