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Crittenden County 911 director tapped for Jonesboro job

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Sturch accepts position to return to home town

Jonesboro Sun Staff JONESBORO — Mayor Harold Copenhaver reached out to Crittenden County in announcing a new director of Jonesboro’s E-911.

Ronnie Sturch, Crittenden County’s director of E-911 emergency communications for almost six years, will begin his new duties today. He’ll succeed Jeff Presley, who officially retired on Wednesday after 28 years in emergency communications. Presley had been director since 2007.

Sturch was among 32 applicants for the position, and was the top choice of the 911 Intergovernmental Board. Jonesboro provides emergency dispatching services for all law enforcement agencies in the county, other than Arkansas State University and Arkansas State Police.

The department also dispatches all fire departments in the county as well as ambulance services.

A Jonesboro native who moved to West Memphis as the son of a pastor, Sturch started as a firefighter and dispatcher in the West Memphis Fire Department at the age of 21 and rose up the ranks. He moved into private business after almost 15 years in the fire service, but then answered the call to take over 911 for the countywide department in Crittenden County.

“I love 911. I have a passion for it,” Sturch said Thursday.

Sturch said emergency communications has evolved greatly during his career.

“I joke to newcomers that I started out with a phone, a radio and a piece of paper,” Sturch told The Jonesboro Sun.

Now dispatchers use multiple computers and other technology to help keep a community safe, and Sturch said he fully embraces the newest technology.

“That’s one of the things I’m about: the latest and greatest technology,” Sturch said. “It’s unbelievable the things we can do in 911 now.”

Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott said he was very impressed with Sturch’s background and personality, but added, “He’s got some big shoes to fill. Jeff did a great job.” Copenhaver announced the hiring of Sturch in a press release that also discussed the appointment of Alan Pillow as director of the Northeast Arkansas Transportation Planning Commission.

“I am extremely pleased with the caliber of these two hires,” Copenhaver said in the release. “I think the public will find they will be well served by these two individuals.”

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