September 23, 2014

Commissioners exploring county building phone fixes

By James Kuch
News Editor | news@arenacindependent.com
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STANDISH — The Arenac County Board of Commissioners is exploring different options to fix phone issues at the Arenac County Building and the Arenac County Sheriff’s Department.

Chairman Mike Snyder said the board is looking at a number of different options, including replacing the current system.

“We are definitely getting an education on phone systems,” he said.

The county building currently uses a system called Centrex, through AT&T, which has been malfunctioning since the beginning of the month. Snyder said the system is so old that parts for it no longer exist. He said a number of different companies and service providers have come forward with ways to improve the county building’s system.

“We have been approached about implementing an Internet protocol service, but that would be a whole different system,” he said. “If we stay with our current provider we could still use some of the wiring that is already in the building.”

He added that new systems could improve communications in the county building and the Sheriff’s Department.

“We are finding out what companies and systems could work to our advantage,” he said.

Snyder said the board still needs to learn more about the different systems.

“We know what it would cost us to replace our phones on the high end of the spectrum,” he said. “We need to figure out what the price is on the low end.”

That high-end price could cost the county $44,000.

“We are hunting down the best system that we can,” Snyder said. “We want to make sure we do this right.”

On Sept. 9, Snyder told the Independent that the county has neglected its phone system for far too long.

“This is a problem we have neglected for a number of years in order to try and save money,” he said. “It’s to the point where we cannot receive voicemails or transfer some phone calls. We are at the point now where we can’t even add refurbished parts to our phones to make them work.”

Snyder said workers in the county building and at the Sheriff’s Department have had issues transferring calls and receiving voicemails, but they’re coping with the problems.

“We have gone back to the old ways of transferring calls,” he said. “County employees are taking down messages on slips of paper and handing them to the people who need them.”

Snyder is urging people attempting to contact anyone in the county building to continue to try until they reach someone.

“Everyone has been wonderful so far,” he said. “We are doing the best we can and I can assure everyone that someone will get back to them if they call.”

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