PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota’s 911 Coordination Board switched to a new provider Friday for emergency service calls throughout the state.
CenturyLink replaces NextGen Communications, Inc. when the current 911 contract expires in December.
The board operates as an arm of the state Department of Public Safety. South Dakota is changing to an Internet-based system for transmitting data and communications.
The initial contract with CenturyLink covers five years, according to Jenna Howell, a lawyer for the department. She said there is an option for an additional five years.
The contract would be worth more than $34 million to the company over its potential lifetime, Howell said,
State government raises money for the emergency system through surcharges on various types of phone services.
Twenty-eight sets of communities and counties operate dispatch centers that are officially known as public safety answering points. There are also four tribal PSAPs.
The state board spent some 90 minutes Friday morning in a private teleconference discussing the potential deal, then publicly voted 6-0 for CenturyLink.
Board member Ted Rufledt Jr. of Rapid City encouraged others on the panel to pick CenturyLink. No other providers were mentioned publicly.
“I’m totally satisfied with what we’ve put forward today,” Rufledt said.
Joining him in voting for Century Link were Michelle DeNeui of Spearfish, Curt Littau of Winner, Lee McPeek of Watertown, Jesseca Mundahl of Sioux Falls and Kelly Serr of Bison.
Two others on the board, Vernon Brown of Sioux Falls and Pam Bryan of Oacoma, abstained. Three others didn’t participate.
“That’s a big step for the state of South Dakota and a big step for us,” McPeek said after the vote. The Watertown police chief is the board’s chairman.
Rufledt praised the “Herculean efforts” by Howell, consulting attorney Paul Bachand, Maria King from the department and several consultants. McPeek and DeNeui agreed.
State Public Safety Secretary Craig Price said in a news release afterward that the board had done “excellent work.”