Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
The county sheriff said the current equipment is "an antiquated system in dire need of repair."
Friday, June 14, 2013
Botetourt County public safety officials won’t have to buy spare radio parts off eBay now that county supervisors have approved a resolution to upgrade the county’s aging emergency radio equipment.
All three supervisors present at Friday’s special meeting voted to spend nearly $450,000 to buy new equipment for the county’s four transmitter tower sites, which provide simultaneous communications across seven radio channels used by public safety employees and the school system.
The move comes none to soon for sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and other emergency personnel who rely on the radio system to communicate during calls. In fact, supervisors moved up the appropriation for the new equipment by a year in order to get the work completed sooner.
“It’s an antiquated system in dire need of repair,” said Botetourt County Sheriff Ronnie Sprinkle, who said that tight budgets of recent years have kept his department from making necessary fixes to their radio equipment.
“We can’t do that anymore,” he said. “If the parts wear out on one tower, we’ve had to move parts from another tower to fix it because they don’t make those parts anymore. We’ve had to order some off eBay.”
The emergency radio system went down for a few hours earlier this year but was fully restored by Blacksburg-based electronics manufacturer Professional Communications, also known as Pro Com. The public safety departments were able to use a backup system while the main radio service was down.
Supervisors Terry Austin, Jack Leffel and Mac Scothorn approved paying $448,079 to Pro Com to replace the equipment at the towers. County Administrator Kathleen Guzi told the supervisors that the complexity of the project and the company’s past work on the radio system made Pro Com the only practical source to make the upgrades.
The county was still bound by state law to issue a request for proposals for the project, even though Pro Com was the sole bidder. The company lowered its bid by about 2.5 percent during negotiations with the county, Guzi said.
Sprinkle said during the meeting that he hoped the price reduction did not mean that the county was curtailing the upgrade or cutting corners. Guzi and Austin assured the sheriff that the scope of services and equipment would not be reduced.
The sheriff’s office will get money in the 2014-15 budget to begin replacing radios as needed.
The county’s sheriff’s office, fire and EMS personnel and school district each have their own dedicated radio channels in order to communicate during emergencies. One common channel exists so that all the agencies can coordinate communications if necessary.
The four towers transmit radio signals across the mountains and valleys and provide coverage of about 98 percent of the county, Sprinkle said.
The new analog equipment should be sufficient for eight to 10 years, Guzi said. After that period, the county might consider implementing a digital radio system, said Jason Ferguson , division chief of the county’s fire and EMS operations.
Guzi told supervisors she did not know the timeline for the replacement work to begin.
“I think it’s safe to say within six months,” Guzi said Friday.
Weather JournalStorm track isn't very snowy for us