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Botetourt supervisors were wise to fund new emergency radio equipment.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Even in a growing community like Botetourt County with increasing service demands, leaders are wise to pinch their pennies. But they also must recognize when it’s time to invest in core services like public safety.
County officials have made do with what Sheriff Ronnie Sprinkle describes as an “antiquated system in dire need of repair” as long as possible. When one of the county’s four emergency radio transmitter towers went on the fritz, parts were borrowed from another tower when feasible. Sprinkle said he’s even ordered parts on eBay because the radio system is so old that new parts are no longer being manufactured.
While Sprinkle should be commended for his ingenuity, a temporary outage earlier this year was a reminder that investments cannot be delayed indefinitely. A backup system allowed communications to continue while the main radio service was down, but it was a wake-up call that nudged supervisors into action.
Supervisors met last week and approved nearly $450,000 to purchase new equipment for the towers. They instructed county staff to hustle and get the improvements under way a year earlier than planned.
The radio system used by sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and other public safety workers to communicate during emergency calls clearly falls into the category of a core service. In a crisis, it’s vital that they be able to coordinate their response. Most, if not all, county residents can agree on that point. Those who disagree will no doubt change their minds the next time help arrives at their door.
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