May 21, 2010 11:02:00 AM
Starkville and Oktibbeha County soon will be the first areas of the state with access to a 311 non-emergency call service.
Public Service Commission Chairman Brandon Presley, D-Nettleton, announced Thursday that the PSC has unanimously approved the city of Starkville and Oktibbeha County for use of 311 service for citizens wishing to contact their local government about non-emergency issues.
Because of the Public Service Commission''s approval, Starkville and Oktibbeha County will become the first governments in Mississippi to deploy 311 service. The 311 service gives citizens a single contact number to call in reference to an array of city and county services, including reporting street and road problems and utility services, along with other facets of government.
"I am proud that the city of Starkville and Oktibbeha County have taken advantage of 311 to help their citizens," Presley said. "One of the biggest complaints I hear from consumers is that they never can find a way to quickly communicate with government offices and utilities. This will go a long way to fix that problem."
Examples of typical 311 calls include animal control problems, potholes, trash pickup problems, trees in the road, water line breaks and illegally parked vehicles or vehicles blocking alleys or driveways which don''t block traffic flow. The number also will give callers access to city agency phone numbers, addresses and hours of operation, and all other city services, such as public works, motor vehicles, human services and the mayor''s office.
The 311 calls will go through Oktibbeha County''s central communications facility, which also houses the emergency 911 service, said Jim Britt, director of Oktibbeha County E-911. No additional staff will be needed to field the calls, he said.
"We feel like this will help provide a great service to the community," Britt said.
Britt didn''t have figures on the number of non-emergency calls that typically come through the 911 center, but said it''s "quite a few."
"We get a lot of them," he said. "Our call volume is way up, so we''re hoping this will help prioritize our calls and take some of the stress off the 911 center a little bit."
Presley said the 311 service should begin "immediately."