On Tuesday, November 29th, Hopewell Township was paid visits by the Speaker of the New Jersey Assembly, Craig J. Coughlin, and local elected officials, Assembly members Verlina Reynolds-Jackson and Anthony Verrelli, and County Commissioner Kristin McLaughlin, to celebrate the grant the Township received from the State of New Jersey to make improvements to the Township’s 9-1-1 Dispatch Center. Welcoming them were Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning, Township Committee members Kevin Kuchinski, David Chait, Uma Purandare, Police Chief James Rosso, Fire Chief Matt Martin, members of the Police Department, and members of Township staff.
Speaker Coughlin is touring the state, visiting sites that received grants for improvements. He said that it was a joy to be able to see first-hand how the money is being used at the local level, helping communities solve real problems. “I think the municipal level is the most important level (of government) in people’s lives,” he said, “history teaches us how critically important places like this are as we face (future) super storms.” About Hopewell Township’s Assembly representatives, he said “you couldn’t ask for two better advocates...they are very effective, relentless, in fact,” when advocating for funds for the community.
Hopewell Township’s 9-1-1 Dispatch Center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is responsible for routing aid for the entire Hopewell Valley, including the boroughs. Chief Rosso explained that the Center receives upwards of 26,000 calls per year. He expressed gratitude to the Speaker for allocating funds for improvements. “The Dispatch Center is the lifeline of the community. We are trying to keep up with technology,” he said, so now we “have the opportunity to get into the next generation of (communications) systems.”
Mayor Peters-Manning also expressed great appreciation for the grant, “upgrading these facilities is overwhelming on a small municipal budget, so we can’t thank you all enough for this investment” in our community.
Last fall, when the area was hit with Hurricane Ida, Hopewell Valley directly experienced just how important proper communications between the various first responders is. During the hours of the storm, the Dispatch Center received over 400 9-1-1 calls and several hundred calls to the Police Department’s non-emergency line. Stranded residents were helped and lives were saved. The First Responders were heroic in their efforts. The improvements on the 9-1-1 Dispatch Center will allow improvements to the systems that locate residents in need, pinpointing them to the very room they are in, and relaying that specific information to the police, fire department, and EMS, to provide aid.