01/14/10 — Retired Air Force sergeant will take on duties for county

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Retired Air Force sergeant will take on duties for county

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 14, 2010 1:46 PM

Randy Weiss, 45, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant, has been hired as the county's new 911 communications director.

A Michigan native, Weiss, who retired in October after 26 years in the service, replaces Delbert Edwards, who resigned Nov. 18.

Weiss' last job in the Air Force was chief of operations for a communications squadron. He said the job involved top-level management where he worked for an officer and involved maintenance and operation of communication systems, air traffic control, a network operations center and radio and telephone systems.

"I started off technical, then switched to management," he said. "My background is broadband communications, microwave, satellite and then trunk radio systems."

Weiss began his new duties Jan. 4. He will oversee operation of the county's 911 dispatch system and the county's move to a new radio system. He said he is familiar with the new system and technology.

According to the ad posting for the job, the director is responsible for implementation, operation and maintenance of any computer-aided dispatch programs used in the communications center. Other duties include maintaining state-mandated files for the Division of Criminal Information for each telecommunicator and serving as terminal agency coordinator for the center; and maintaining and ensuring all certifications are current and acceptable through the Sheriff's Standards Division.

The director also supervises the general work performed by the 911 telecommunicators as it relates to shift scheduling, time off and training as well as performing the duties to cover scheduled time off and/or emergency situations, through and with the shift supervisors. Other supervision duties include in-house training for new telecommunicators as well as continuing education for current employees.

"It is very similar to what I used to do, a smaller organization," Weiss said. "My last organization was 160 people, more maintenance, less operations, but the Air Force made a change about a year before I retired where they rolled ops and maintenance together. There are a lot of the same issues, a lot of the same technologies."

Weiss, who will oversee 24 employees, will be paid $43,146 annually.

"I am just in the observing stage, how they do business here," he said. "Of course military and emergency management kind of go hand in hand. We have small 911 centers on all Air Force bases. Smaller than what we have here. I am familiar with them, but not with the scale we have here."

Weiss, his wife, Lisa, and son, Ryan, 11, moved to Wayne County in June. They had been driving between the county and Kernersville near Winston-Salem where they have family looking at real estate and the job market before deciding on Wayne County.

He found out about the opening through the newspaper.

"We had just moved in and gotten a subscription (to the News-Argus) and within four days saw the article (about the opening)," Weiss said. "We had some real good friends that we met when we were in service when we were all stationed in Germany together.

"One is still in the Air Force stationed here at Seymour. One is retired and is now a teacher in a local school here and the third set of friends has purchased land here and think they are coming here when they are done. We were No. 4. We came and visited the last few years and liked the area, liked what we saw. It was my turn (to retire) and here we are."

The county received more than 24 applications for the job, Emergency Services Director Joe Gurley said.

Gurley said Weiss's technical prowess made him a perfect choice for the job.

"It is very helpful and it was gratifying to see someone with his experience come in and be able to read the technical side of different widgets that are out there, digital trunking, microwaves. It is a big beast to have to tackle, but he has the skill sets to do it."

While it was not part of the job description, another factor in Weiss' favor was his familiarity with intelligence work, Gurley said.

"That will be a real asset to this office as it relates to homeland security," Gurley said. "Once we get him on board, get him seasoned and get him comfortable, that next step, homeland security, we will be calling on his expertise."

Meanwhile, Gurley said that progress is continuing on the county's new $9.7 million communications system.

"We have a project team for this radio project that consists of our core staff and as the transition period goes off we will hand off more and more to Randy to make sure it is carried out and finalized in the projected way," Gurley said.

Work is somewhat ahead of schedule on two radio towers for the county. One is located on U.S. 13 just east of Grantham and the other is located behind Carver Memorial Park in Mount Olive. The towers are being built by Communications International, which submitted a bid of $872,933.

The anticipated completion dates are February for the Grantham tower and March for the Mount Olive structure.

"The weather has been favorable and they possibility could be finished before then," Gurley said.

The completed system should be switched on in September.

The county received approval from the Local Government Commission to borrow up to $9.7 million from RBC Centura to finance the system over a 10-year period at a 3.88 percent interest rate.

The bulk of the work will be done in the spring and summer.

Equipment infrastructure for the project is expected to be delivered for deployment to the tower sites beginning in April with a completion date in May.

The anticipated completion date for the microwave antenna system is the end of March or first of April.

One of the final steps will be delivering an estimated 1,600 mobile/portable units to all fire, rescue and law enforcement agencies in the county.