Kilgore City Council approved several measures at a regular Tuesday board meeting, including a planned 4{sup}th{/sup} of July celebration and a proposed upgrade to the city’s 911 system.

First on the list of discussion items was a proposed contract with MPA for a 4th of July fireworks display.

“Our hope is we’ll be able to have a 4th of July that is at least similar in some ways to past celebrations. The 4th of July is one of our biggest holidays here in Kilgore. Even if that simply means sitting in cars in the parking lot and watching fireworks, we think it would be worth the money represented in the contract, which is about $7,500 for our fireworks display,” said City Manager Josh Selleck.

He added First Baptist Church had agreed to let the city use a location directly across from Las Tejanitas to launch the fireworks.

“That will allow us more parking. Even if we’re confined to our cars, we think we have adequate space and there are a lot of other areas fireworks are visible from,” Selleck said.

The council voted unanimously to approve the contract for the planned celebration.

“It’s time we got on with some normalcy in our lives,” commented Kilgore Mayor Ronnie Spradlin.

Kilgore Police Department Chief Todd Hunter next took the podium to address the council about a proposed purchase order to AT&T for an upgrade of the city’s 911 emergency call system.

“This was an unexpected expenditure on the city’s part,” Hunter said.

“Just to give you some history on this, our city is a 911 district in itself. Counties, and things of that nature, typically are part of a communications district with 911 being served through the council of government and that’s where they receive their funding. We receive it through tax revenue, through your bill for 911.”

While Kilgore self-funds its 911 system, it relies on a service network used by East Texas Council of Governments. Last year, Hunter explained, ETCOG changed to a new vendor and a new 911 system.

In order to continue processing 911 calls as normal, Kilgore must move onto this new network or pay extra to move onto their own system.

“ETCOG is changing their vendor. They were with Emergency Callworks. Now they’re changing to VESTA. They’re both owned by Motorola Solutions. This will allow us to get more data than we could’ve received before. It’s really more the Cadillac than the Chevrolet in this situation,” Hunter said, adding that change was the sole decision of ETCOG, not KPD or the City of Kilgore.

The chief added he had looked into the option of setting up an individual 911 system for Kilgore, which would cost approximately $156,000. Switching to the VESTA system used by ETCOG would cost only $81,000.

“We felt like it’s better to just continue with that for half the cost,” he said.

The new system can handle more data and the switch will be paid for out of the city’s 911 fund, not the general fund.

“It will amplify what we receive,” Hunter said of the VESTA system.

“There will actually be more data and we will be able to pinpoint a little more accurately where those cell phones are.”

The council voted unanimously to approve the purchase and system change.

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