It is time to begin the fourth and final phase of the county’s emergency radio system, according to Wallace Whittaker. The sheriff informed magistrates on the fiscal court Tuesday that Adairville would now be the focus for completing the system.
“Phases one, two and three began in 2009,” said Whittaker. “They included setting microwave repeaters on towers in Auburn, Lewisburg and Russellville to better the signal between emergency agencies and the dispatch center. Now it’s Adairville’s turn.”
In 2013, two digital radio repeaters were purchased by the county for approximately $223,000. They were put in the areas of Auburn and Lewisburg. The repeaters are part of a multi-site system that was purchased by the county in 2009 for over a half a million dollars. The system was updated after reports started coming in claiming the old system was causing safety concerns among those emergency service workers out in the field who could not connect to dispatch or each other.
A repeater is a combination of a radio receiver and a radio transmitter that receives a weak or low-level signal and retransmits it at a higher level or higher power, so that the signal can cover longer distances without degradation. When the county bought the new multi-site digital radio system in the early 2000’s, the contract called for at least three repeater tower sites, with the option for a fourth. Magistrates, however, started out with only one, which was placed on Reservoir Hill in Russellville, until they realized one was not going to be enough.
Whittaker said he will be speaking with a citizen to place the microwave on top on a tower on Mortimer Road. If that does not pan out, the sheriff mentioned possibly going toward the Schochoh area. Cost to complete phase four will be between $120,000-$220,000.
“We have already had trouble with radio transmission in Adairville,” Whittaker said. “An officer was actually hurt and could not connect through a signal.”
The sheriff asked for permission from the court to apply for a Homeland Security Grant to help pay for the cost. Magistrates agreed.
Also needing an upgrade immediately is the phone system at the Emergency Communications Center (ECC-911). Ginger Lawrence, director at the dispatch center, said it needs to be done as soon as possible. The ECC is down to two phones, which are used to communicate with the 911 center.
Lawrence applied for a grant but was turned down. She has saved, however, $80,000 in her budget to help pay for the $140,000 price tag, but needs help from the fiscal court for the remainder. Both Judge Executive Logan Chick and magistrates agreed this was an expense that was necessary. Magistrate Dickie Carter asked Lawrence to gather the needed information to submit to the court at its next meeting.
“This is one of the most important things we do in the county,” said judge Chick referring to the 911 center. “We are going to have to do something. We don’t want to get to the point where we can’t answer calls.”
To contact Chris Cooper, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 270-726-8394.