GALLIPOLIS — April 14-20, 2013, is National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, and, according to current Gallia County 911 Director Sherry Daines, it is all too fitting that this week the Gallia County 911 Center will be rededicated in honor of the man who was so instrumental in the development of the county’s 911 system.
At 2 p.m. on Thursday, the Gallia County 911 Center will be renamed the “Stephen L. Wilson 911 Communications Center” in honor of the late Steve Wilson, who served as the 911 Director from the system’s inception in 1997 until his untimely passing on November 4, 2009.
“He was very dedicated to the people of Gallia County and he wanted the system to be the best that we could have and I think that was accomplished,” Daines said of Wilson. “He would be very proud that things have continued the way he would have wanted them to. And this rededication, I think, is very fitting. He put a lot of time into it. He lived and breathed 911, so, I think this is very fitting that this is happening now.”
Wilson, who had been noted both locally and across the state for his knowledge of emergency response communications systems, served as a dispatcher for the City of Gallipolis for nearly 20 years prior to his service as the 911 director, and, according to Daines, who worked with Wilson from her earliest days as a dispatcher with the City of Gallipolis in the late 1980s, he helped to structure the Gallia 911 Center as a model for other emergency communications centers.
“Steve was really instrumental in the pre-planning of 911 for Gallia County,” Daines said. “He was on the committee that helped decide what we were going to have here, what kind of equipment and when they started putting everything together. And then he came here as the director in 1997 and he was the director until he passed away in 2009.”
Prior to 1997, according to Daines, the county’s emergency communications system was decentralized with each individual agency — the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office, City of Gallipolis and Gallia County EMS — maintaining their own dispatch centers.
“Everybody had their own thing going on then, so once 911 came along and it was a central dispatch, it took some getting used to for everyone, from the responders to the dispatchers, but it has definitely been good for the community because everything comes here, everything is dispatched from here, it is followed through from start to finish,” Daines commented.
According to Daines, the county’s emergency dispatchers officially moved to their current location in September 2007. This 1997 move coincides with Wilson’s evident role in the development of the system as he was named 911 director by the Gallia County Commissioners on September 1, 1997.
Daines, who served as the 911 Deputy Director and Wilson’s assistant following the 1997 move, was named as Wilson’s successor following his passing. And, while Wilson is sorely missed by not only those associated with the 911 center, but also by local first responders, his legacy is being carried on by Daines and the Wilson family.
“Now, his brother, Keith, is the assistant. He is 911 Deputy Director and I know Steve would be happy about that, too,” Daines said.
All first responders, county officials and members of the general public are invited to attend Thursday’s ceremony at the 911 Center as it is rededicated as the “Stephen L. Wilson 911 Center.”
“Anyone who wants to stop in is more than welcome to stop in and we’re going to have an open house after the ceremony,” Daines said. “We’d be happy to show people around to see what kind of system we have. There may be people out there that have not been inside our facility and we’d be happy to show them what we have.”
The Gallia County 911 Center is located at 1191 Ohio 160.