The emergency dispatch center Tazewell Pekin Consolidated Communications Center (Tazcomm), soon to be consolidated, held a farewell party June 15 for its dispatchers and emergency telecommunicators, who received awards in appreciation for their service.

The center also honored Tazcomm Director Tammie Conover and Day Shift Supervisor Darci Nitzschke, who will retire on Saturday, June 30. Between them, Conover and Nitzschke have served with Tazcomm for a total of 70 years.

Conover, who is retiring after 38 years of service, is looking forward to spending more time with her grandchildren. Her fourth grandchild will be born in August. While she appreciates the additional leisure time retirement will bring, she will miss her employees and co-workers. She will also miss the 911 call center’s mascot, a cat named Tigger, whose duties seem to consist of boosting workplace morale.

“I’m going to miss this place like crazy,” Conover said. “I worked here my entire adult life. We are a small organization with just a few people, and when you work for a small firm, there is a family feel to it. You learn a lot about co-workers and their families, and you become a close-knit group. We’ve demonstrated over the years that we have each other’s backs.” 

Like Conover, Nitzschke established a great deal of camaraderie with her co-workers in her 32 years at Tazcomm and expects that the end of daily interactions with them will create a considerable void in her life. What she will miss most about working at Tazcomm, however, is the job itself.

“I have a passion for helping people, and I was surrounded by people who also had a passion for helping others,” said Nitzschke. “We had great teamwork. My favorite moments during my career are times when I helped someone through a crisis they might not have gotten through if I hadn’t talked to them. The job got in my blood, and I never knew what the day was going to bring. I could be helping deliver a baby over the phone one moment and find myself in the middle of a crisis like a major tornado the next.”

After 42 years of existence, Tazcomm will consolidate in an effort to combine Public Safety Answering Points. Tazcomm will remain at its location but will consolidate with Morton, Washington and East Peoria emergency dispatch centers effective Sunday, July 1.

“This is an end of an era, a bittersweet time for many emergency telecommunicators,” said Sue Vansaghi, Nitzschke’s sister and a former Tazcomm supervisor. “I was part of the Tazcomm family for 21 years myself. I know how dedicated these civilian employees are to their profession to provide the first first responder service by picking up the 911 line. They are the calm in the storm, whether it is providing Emergency Medical Dispatch pre-arrival instruction and dispatching the appropriate apparatus or understanding a citizen’s frustration when reporting a theft. They are there serving their community 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”