EMA radio system gets finance nod for upgrade

FEMA funds set to support plan

By BRIAN GRAVES Banner Staff Writer
Posted 8/16/16

The tornadoes that ravaged Bradley County five years ago may have left more than pain and destruction.

They may have left a legacy which can serve to better aid county residents should such a …

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EMA radio system gets finance nod for upgrade

FEMA funds set to support plan

Posted

The tornadoes that ravaged Bradley County five years ago may have left more than pain and destruction.

They may have left a legacy which can serve to better aid county residents should such a disaster occur again.

County Emergency Management Director Troy Spence requested the Bradley County Commission Finance Committee on Monday to authorize him to negotiate for an upgraded radio system.

"We want to add capacity to the system, and also better build penetration," Spence said.

He said the EMA has a quote from Motorola for $423,000.

“We have found a place that has what we are talking about and we could save quite a bit of money,” Spence said.

He said the county has received $173,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the work done involving the tornado outbreak.

“What I am trying to do is take this free money from FEMA and invest it into a radio system so that next time we have a big disaster, we're ready,” Spence said.

He said he felt the price could be negotiated down to where the equipment could be shipped here and Motorola could do the upgrade work, "and have it for everybody to use — the sheriff, police departments, fire departments and EMS — everybody on one system."

“Once we get it [operational], the state will pay for all of the upgrades from that point on,” Spence said. "This is state of the art. It doesn't get any better.”

He said there is "pretty good coverage" throughout the county, but a major issue is when there are communications from within buildings.

"We have done a lot in preparation for this," Spence added.

Jerry Johnson of EMA said the engineering done on the Johnson Boulevard repeater site allowed the system to reach 95 percent of the county.

"We will have six more channels with this system, and that's a big deal when we have a disaster," Spence said. "I think this is a great opportunity to upgrade our public safety radio system to where it needs to be."

The Finance Committee unanimously approved Spence's request.

Also approved was the addition of an archival fee of $5, collected through the clerks of the court, for the purpose of initiating a legal proceeding.

Commissioners have already looked at renovating four of the Lake Forest Middle School classroom pods into the county archives and the fees would be able to help with that renovation as well as potentially digitizing county records.

Clerk and Master Sarah Coleman told the committee, "We don't have any more space at the courthouse."

She said once the fee was established, her office could begin collecting it within two weeks.

Since the county cannot begin using the Lake Forest building until late next year, it is hoped there would be enough to build up in the archive fund to initiate the necessary work to prepare the buildings for their new use.

The fees are allowed by state statute and "must be designated exclusively for duplicating, storing and maintaining any records required by law to be permanently kept."

The committee's recommendation will go before the full Commission for a vote on Sept. 6 and could become effective Oct. 1.

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