Changes at CSP mean new focus on services

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A state mandated consolidation of Colorado State Patrol dispatch services means big changes in the Craig office. A 1991 legislative mandate means the eight Colorado State Patrol (CSP) dispatch offices across the state will be consolidated into five by July 2001.

Because Moffat County received a bid to be the location of one of the new regional dispatch offices, it will now handle dispatch services for state agencies in Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco, Grand, Jackson and Summit counties three more counties than the office currently dispatches.

To comply with the mandate, the Hot Sulphur Springs dispatch office will be closed Dec. 15 and dispatch services for its three counties will be moved to the Craig office.

"This just about doubles our workload," Regional Manager Lynette Stieb-Sorensen said.

The result will be a renewed focus on emergency calls because of increased call volume, causing some public services to be reduced.

The dispatch office at the Craig CSP office has been moved to the upper floor of the building so dispatchers will no longer have any direct contact with the public.

"That was one of the benefits of moving upstairs," Stieb-Sorensen said. "We can now give full attention to 911 and emergency calls."

Emergency calls are the first responsibility of a dispatcher, she said.

An administrative assistant will handle all interactions with the public.

The CSP dispatch center will no longer provide road and weather reports.

"We're really not into road and weather," Stieb-Sorensen said. "Our first priority is emergencies."

Throughout the winter, a dispatcher records the road and weather conditions into a machine people may call for information and updates. Not only does Stieb-Sorensen expect the workload to increase to the point dispatchers may not have the time to update to road and weather report, the machine used is not working well and there are no plans to replace it if it breaks.

"We really do apologize for that inconvenience," she said.

People in need of road and weather conditions may call 1-303-693-1111 or get information from the Internet at www.dot.state.co.us. Weather information will also be available on KBCR radio.

People will still be able to call the Craig weather hotline at 824-4765 while the machine holds out and until dispatchers become too busy with emergency calls to update the information.

"People are going to have to get used to calling Denver," Stieb-Sorensen said.

She estimates the consolidation of offices will more than double the amount of calls the Craig office receives. To make up for the anticipated increase in calls, the dispatch center has hired four new dispatchers. Additional personnel will allow the office have three dispatchers on staff during day and swing shifts and two during the graveyard shift.

"Now we're lucky if we have double coverage on any shift," Stieb-Sorensen said.

The move upstairs in the building will give the office more room to accommodate the additional employees.

To make the job easier, the dispatch office will transfer from manually recording calls to a computer-aided dispatching program where all information is inputted directly into a computer.

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