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Clarion County 9-1-1 Celebrates 50 Years of Service

Founder of Clarion County’s 9-1-1 center, Jim Cumberland, sets at one of the 5 call stations, as his wife, left, and others look on. Cumberland is amazed at the improvements the call center has made over the 50 years.


On Thursday, April 13, 2023, the Clarion County Board of Commissioners held a celebration of the county’s 9-1-1 service call center. The celebration was also an open house for the county’s new call center headquartered in Shippenville, PA at 160 Amsler Ave.

The county acquired the old “Sorce” Building and refurbished it to house the 9-1-1 call center along with a spacious Learning Center, and dispatch garage. On May 6, 2022, Clarion County 9-1-1 relocated from the old Clarion County Jail behind the Courthouse on 5th Ave., into a fully renovated facility in Shippenville. The new location provided a new phone system, new workstations, and other equipment options to assist the dispatchers with processing 9-1-1 calls. The new space allows dispatchers the efficiency of dispatch through CAD (computer-aided dispatch) while training future dispatchers.

The honored guest speaker for the event was retired sheriff Jim Cumberland, who was the driving force behind the creation of the Clarion County 9-1-1 call center. It was noted by Rep. Donna Oberlander in her proclamation that the Clarion County 9-1-1 center was the very first 9-1-1 Center to open in Pennsylvania. The Center has been in existence since April 17, 1973.

Just moments before the opening remarks were given by Commissioner Ted Tharan, the STAT MedEvac helicopter, made a fly-in, for visitors to tour as well. The STAT MedEvac is a vital part of the 9-1-1 service in Clarion County, as well as the AHN Life Flight.

Jim Cumberland’s comments began by noting how well the Republicans and the Democrats worked together to help establish the first 9-1-1 call center 50 years ago. Cumberland was given a plaque commemorating the 50-year anniversary, by County Commissioner Ed Heasley.

Jeff Smathers, the current Director of Public Safety in Clarion County, commented that each of his predecessors and himself included had the goal to make the department better than they found it.

Several awards of recognition were given out during the celebration, such as years of service, thanks, and congratulations. One such special recognition went to Cody Moore. He received the “Stork” award, for successfully helping a caller to deliver a baby.

Pictured here is Noreen O’Hara, Clarion Call Center’s first dispatcher, who worked for 34 yrs. and 4 months, was an invited guest at the 50th Year Celebration.


Senator Scott Hutchinson was present and was reminiscing about years past when his father operated the Hutchinson Funeral Home in Oil City, and how his father also offered a free ambulance service. He remarked on how things have developed over the years and gave high praise to the visionaries in Clarion County, Sheriff Cumberland, and the current Clarion County Commissioner, who paved the way to where the Clarion 9-1-1 call center is today.

Jeff Smathers also noted that there were a few positions open at the 9-1-1 center and that training was very extensive and dispatchers must complete 790 hours of training to meet County and State certification requirements.


Click here for a slide show highlighting the Clarion County 9-1-1 Celebration.

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