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Information center would be good move

Now that Lawrence County has gone a long way toward making its 911 system as strong as it should be, local leaders are looking at implementing a new set of numbers to address other vital needs.

A variety of local agencies got together Tuesday to discuss the creation of a 211 phone system that would provide free information about a variety of social needs in Lawrence County including food, housing, employment, health care, counseling and more.

The free 24-hour service would be staffed by individuals trained to handle the calls and can either provide the information or direct the caller to the appropriate agency.

The concept is certainly nothing new to Ohio as 56 of Ohio’s 88 counties currently have a system in place. This means that more than 80 percent of Ohioans have access to the service.

Lawrence County is not one of the 56.

The United Way of the River Cities would provide the initial start up funds, approximately $40,000, but local agencies would have to create a funding plan that would ensure the program is stable for at least the next two years after that.

Creating this one-stop solution for information about Lawrence County could certainly alleviate some of the unnecessary calls to 911 and local law-enforcement agencies that are used simply as information sources for questions about community events, government agencies and other general information.

It can also help individuals connect with the services they need to improve their quality of life but are currently unsure where to turn for help.

The price tag is relatively small but the potential rewards could be great.