Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Jan. 15 newspaper on Page A1.
JACKSON — Jackson County officials have approved an agreement concerning a mass emergency notification system, set to launch in the county next month.
Jackson County Emergency Management Agency (JCEMA) Director Robert Czechlewski, along with JCEMA Deputy Director Tommie Harless and Jackson County Health Commissioner Kevin Aston, recently discussed the system.
After almost 15 years of looking at different Reverse 911 Systems, Czechlewski told the Jackson County Commissioners that he found a system, and was ready to submit a service contract with Hyper-Reach.
Hyper-Reach is a mass emergency notification system designed specifically for public safety. The system can send thousands of telephone calls, text messages or emails to geographically targeted locations in seconds.
The service, according to Czechlewski, would enable the county to instantly send voice and text messages to any number of recipients during an emergency or localized disaster.
The City of Jackson has been using the Hyper-Reach System since May 2014. Czechlewski explained that his contract with Hyper-Reach would cover the rest of Jackson County.
The contract is a three-year package, and Czechlewski stated that it would be paid for out of the JCEMA budget. The pricing would be as follows: $3,300 (Feb. 1, 2020 — Sept. 30, 2020), $4,950 (Oct. 1, 2020 — Sept. 30, 2021), and $4,950 (Oct. 1, 2021 — Sept. 30, 2022).
Czechlewski stated that the City of Wellston is going to contribute $1,200 a year towards the cost of the system. He explained that he would also be approaching the Villages of Oak Hill and Coalton to see if they would like to contribute, as well.
Czechlewski also stated that Jackson County was one of the last counties in Ohio to enroll into some kind of system like this.
Hyper-Reach, according to Czechlewski, offers a free smartphone app called “Hyper-Reach Anywhere” that can be downloaded from Apple or Android app stores. Once downloaded, users can sign-up and enable their location to start receiving alerts.
For citizens who still use landline phones, their numbers are automatically enrolled, but cellphones are only included when people enroll. However, one feature of the system can send out a mass “broadcast” message to most cellphones in an affected area, even if they aren’t enrolled. The broadcast message is much like the ones citizens already receive, such as weather or amber alerts.
After hearing about the system, Jackson County Commissioners Ed Armstrong and Jon Hensler voted to approve the contract. Commissioner Paul Haller was absent during that meeting.
Czechlewski told The Courier following the meeting that the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO), will continue to use the Nixle System. The JCSO puts out alerts via that system regarding snow level emergency declarations, criminal activities, traffic accidents, road closures, severe weather and missing people.