A Summary of the Project History and Where it Stands Today
In the fall of 1995, the local fire chief and a county commissioner attended their first 911 meeting in Wood County. It was to discuss a 911 system to be placed in Wood and Wirt Counties. The system relied on a lineal mileage standard, with calls being taken at a "Central" location. At that time, the residents in the town of Elizabeth had physical addresses, but the rural areas still used their route and box number, provided to them by their local post office.Emergency responders found it difficult to locate residents by these postal addresses when time was crucial. A standardized system would benefit the citizens as well as those responding to the emergency.
After long discussions, attending numerous meetings in Wood County, a group of local leaders decided to take it upon themselves to start moving forward with the Wirt County addressing project. Most, if not all of the work was done by hand and maps were drawn by color coding areas of the county. Since, this work was done in their spare time; it was a slow, tedious process.
In 1999 Congressman Rahall organized a meeting between several 911 directors and the West Virginia congressional delegation to discuss the development of a Statewide Addressing and Mapping project. At this time a committee was appointed to develop the project and Verizon WV agreed to fund it through their new Incentive Regulation Plan (IRP) with the West Virginia Public Service Commission.
In 2001 the Statewide Addressing and Mapping Board (WVSAMB) was established with the passage of legislation introduced by the West Virginia E-911 Council, Senate Bill 460. This entity would provide a centralized addressing system for all West Virginia counties. They would provide each county with aerial photography and direction on completing their 911 addressing. The State Board required each county to have an Addressing and Mapping Coordinator. Wirt County hired their first coordinator in the fall of 2005. During his tenure, the addressing office was part of the "Robert's Store" fire. Most of the records were intact, but all of the equipment needed replacement.
The Wirt Addressing Project suffered a setback, but not an insurmountable problem for the men who started the project a decade ago. By now, the group had formed the Wirt County 911 Advisory Board, gathering and providing advice to the Wirt County Commission on addressing and mapping matters. Quickly, a new office was located and the equipment was replaced. In the early part of 2007, the current coordinator was hired. When she arrived, the project was in its infancy for issuing 911 physical addresses. No actual field work had been completed. The field work would be completed by zip codes. Wirt County has 12 zip code areas within its boundaries. The first zip code was completed in the summer on 2007 and sent to the postal service. The USPS conversion took place in January 2008 and the first Wirt County 911 addresses were issued. The other 11 zip code areas were completed, with the culmination of the largest 26143 being finished in June 2012. The Elizabeth town residents were issued their new 911 physical addresses at the beginning of 2013.
Shortly after the 911 addresses were issued, the addressing office took on the task of matching all Wirt County residential landlines to their physical addresses. The work was completed similar to the zip code workup. The telephone matching process involved 8 individual carriers and 13 exchanges. Frontier would only accept the entire county telephone log with the corresponding Master Street Addressing Guide (MSAG). These documents were submitted in the fall of 2014. Early in 2015, Frontier notified the Wirt County office that the data had been loaded into their system. Wirt County was now enhanced or E-911. This means that when a call is placed to 911, the Central dispatcher is provided with automatic location information (ALI), pinpointing the exact location of the call.
Since 2008 the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) has been the home of the statewide addressing and mapping project. See Mapping Board wants more time for additional information.
Presently, the Wirt County Addressing and Mapping project is in maintenance mode. Over 90% of the county's structures have been addressed. We currently work on new constructions, replacement structures, updating photographs and descriptions. Additional projects include working with emergency responders on quick access road manuals and managing their digital messaging system data. Insuring telephone routing, maintaining mapping programs, updating databases and signage distribution are just a few of our ongoing projects.
This is a brief outline of the Wirt County 911 Addressing and Mapping Project. This project would not have been possible without the commitment of volunteers, staff, mapping committee members, board members and the commission. Last but not least, the cooperation of the residents and property owners of Wirt County are invaluable to this project.