Since You Asked

A recent Mail Tribune story stated that the Southern Oregon Regional Communications 9-1-1 center was on shaky ground as far as earthquakes are concerned. What would SORC do if their building couldn't be used after an earthquake?

— William A., Gold Hill

The report released on May 22 by the state Department of Geology and Mineral Industries came as no surprise to SORC, said Director Margie Puckett.

The 9-1-1 center's officials and intergovernmental council have known for years that they need new, earthquake-safe quarters. The center is now located on the fourth floor of the Jackson County Courthouse.

SORC had planned to buy property near the Medford airport, but it no longer retains right-of-refusal on that parcel and has no plans to select another site, Puckett said. Because SORC dispatches for most of the county's small police and fire departments, money is always tight among member organizations, she said.

"There just isn't extra money of any kind," she said. "The funding's always up in the air."

But SORC does have concrete plans in the event of an earthquake. The county's mobile command center, purchased in 2004 with grant funds, is equipped with SORC's operating systems. Although shared under interagency agreements, the vehicle is available to those with the most dire need.

An empty seat for a SORC dispatcher also is available at Rogue Valley Consolidated Communications, which serves the cities of Medford and Ashland. The city of Medford is wrapping up work on a backup 9-1-1 center at its fire station No. 6, which could be made available to SORC, said Medford Police Chief Randy Schoen.

"In times of emergency, community safety comes first," Schoen said.

SORC, too, is aiming to house several older computers with some of its member fire agencies, Puckett said.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by e-mail to

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