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Officials celebrate 911 Center opening at TPD

Tahlequah and Cherokee County officials gathered at the Tahlequah Police Department Wednesday, Feb. 21, to celebrate the opening of the Cherokee County 911 Center.

Police Chief Nate King said the move has been in talks for at least 25 years, back when 911 was formed in Cherokee County.

“For one reason or another, it’s never been able to happen. Way back when, some egos got in the way and what it ended up doing was separating emergency dispatch, separating the city from everybody else,” King said.

The initial plan was to house the 911 center at City Hall where the court clerk’s office was, but King said that plan was nixed. King and Fire Chief Casey Baker began holding monthly meetings with emergency services department heads.

“We started on this three years ago. In the end, it was a lot of different entities that really put themselves in the backseat to better the citizens of Cherokee County,” King said.

Additionally, King said the move was an inconvenience to first responders, however; it was beneficial for the community.

First responders have stressed how seconds count in the event of an emergency and 911 Coordinator Alicia Felts said the move will help cut down on time as dispatchers will no longer have to transfer 911 calls.

A lease agreement between the city and the CC911 Trust Authority was approved during a Dec. 2022 Tahlequah City Council meeting.

The lease will automatically be renewed annually unless the city or the trust authority give at least six months', or 180 days', notice. City Attorney John Tyler Hammons said the city is responsible for providing electricity, water services, and trash while all other responsibilities are to be covered by the trust authority.

“In my times as chief, this is the most monumental thing that we’ve been able to do for the citizens of Cherokee County,” King said.

Baker said it’s difficult to get different entities to work together and he thanked Tahlequah and Cherokee County officials, Cherokee Nation, and Northeastern Health System for making this move possible. Cherokee County Sheriff Jason Chennault echoed Baker.

“It’s going to make our community a safer place,” Baker said.

The office of City of Tahlequah/Cherokee County Emergency Management has moved to where the old Cherokee County 911 Center was located on College Avenue.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was hosted by the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce.


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