Morton appointed interim 9-1-1 director

By Thomas Wilson

   The 9-1-1 Communications District's board of directors voted at a special called meeting on Monday to appoint Glenna Morton as interim executive director.
   The appointment comes one week after sitting executive director Walter Pierce was mobilized for active duty with the 776th Maintenance Company of the Tennessee Army National Guard. The company is scheduled to leave Elizabethton for Fort Campbell, Ky. on Thursday.
   "I am very glad the board put me in charge and showed the confidence to appoint me," said Morton, who has served as the district's assistant director for eight years. "I feel good about this because I am so proud of the 9-1-1."
   Pierce notified the board that the 776th had been placed on pre-mobilization alert at the December meeting.
   The board also voted to temporarily promote office manager, Lou Eller, to assistant director. With their interim status, the board also voted to grant a minimum 10 percent increase in salary to both women.
   Board member Charles Stahl suggested the 10 percent increase based on the city's pay scale that set minimum salaries for ascending positions based on rank and/or responsibility. His motion was seconded by Jim Burrough and received yes votes from Roger Deal, John Pierce, Terry Arnold, Bill Carter, and Dale Fair.
   Board members David Jones and Roger Deal voted no, saying they did not feel the minimum 10 percent was not an adequate raise from the two positions. Board member John Henson was absent from the meeting.
   Deal also felt a framework specifying employees, salary and duties should be implemented for the communications center.
   "I think we need a pay scale for every position here and a job description for every position here," said Deal.
   Fair said he supported his idea but felt board members should research employee pay scales of surrounding counties to learn how to implement such a plan.
   With the temporary departure of Pierce, Morton said the district would apply the approximately $25,000 in appropriated salary funds of his position into hiring at least one new dispatcher to ease the workload.
   Presently, two dispatchers handle telephone calls and emergency service communications on two 12-hour shifts set at 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The dispatching duo becomes a trio when a third dispatcher works an 8-hour shift from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
   Morton said the district had designs on bringing another dispatcher on from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. to provide three dispatchers for 16 hours over a 24-hour period.
   "The need is very great for additional dispatchers," said Morton.
   Pierce was named interim director shortly after the board voted to terminate then-executive director Sherry Cable Range in April 1999. The board voted to select him as permanent executive director following a screening process of candidates.
   Pierce is one of 175 members of the 776th Maintenance Company mobilized for active duty.
   National Guard and Reserve members become full-time employees of the U.S. government receiving federal salaries and benefits when mobilized for active duty.
   Morton said the mobilization notice had proven to be an emotional experience for the staff members who have worked with Pierce for almost four years.
   "He's a fine man. He's been with us for four years, and, in that time, you get to be close friends with people you work with," said Morton. "He, like all members of the 776th, is definitely in all of our prayers."