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Tama County Supervisors-Benson warns of emergency communications breakdown; bond issue required to pay for improvements By John Speer Central Iowa Press

November 1, 2018
Northern-Sun Print
“Our communications system is failing at an alarming rate,” Tama County Emergency Management and E911 Director Mindy Benson told the Board of Supervisors on Monday, Oct. 29. “We’ve been putting this off for years and years and years” Benson is calling for replacement of emergency and law enforcement radios, some of the existing towers and related transmission equipment. Saying “it keeps me awake nights” Benson said the dangers which could be felt are many from citizens needing an emergency response for accidents or fires to law officers needing assistance and the radio system failing. Benson said her study has centered on options provided by Raycom, a Marshalltown radio firm which currently services the county system. Of the various options she said she would recommend the mid-level one which she said should provided service to the county for at leasts 20 years. I It includes replacement and relocation of some of the five towers scattered around the county and reuse of other existing ones. The 10-year maintenance cost would be covered by the existing yearly budgets. Raycom cost estimates are: Hosted controller- five tower sites, infrastructure, radio, paging system and pagers $4,251,883; civil estimate $2,138,920; 10-year maintenance $1,570,433. Other proposal cost ranges in cost (from Raycom estimates) Hosted Controller- six tower sites, infrastructure, radio, paging system and pagers- $4,597,191; civils estimate $2,623,020; 10 year maintenance $1,684,531 ranging to three tower sites, infrastructure, radio, paging system and pagers- $3,569,687; civils estimate $1,339,420; 10-year maintenance $1,349,656. The expenditure would require passage of a bond issue which the board of supervisors mus call for, Benson said. Benson said emergency management and E911 funds had about $700,000 in carryover money which could be spent on the project. Benson said she has searched for any available grants and has been unable to find any to aid the project. 1st District Supervisor Larry Vest said he recognized the need for the system upgrade but questioned if bids shouldn’t be secured, a position agreed to by 3rd District Supervisor Dan Anderson. 2nd District Supervisor Kendall Jordan, who is the board representative on the Emergency Management and E911 commissions, said he agreed the proposal needed to be taken back before those board for further consideration of the need for a bidding process. The commissions then would make recommendation to supervisors. Benson said the radio communications system is classed as an essential service and does not require bidding. The Emergency Management and E911 commissions serve all cities in Tama County, the Meskwaki Settlement and surrounding communities which are in the county service area. The Tama County Dispatch Center in the Tama County Courthouse in Toledo handles calls for the Tama County Sheriff’s Office, Tama, Toledo, Dysart and Meskwaki Nation Tribal Police forces; fire departments in Tama, Toledo, Chelsea, Montour, Vining, Elberon, Garwin, Clutier, Traer, Dysart, Gladbrook and Lincoln; ambulance services in Tama, Toledo, Garwin, Elberon, Gladbrook, Traer and Dysart; and first responders at Montour, the Meskwaki Settlement, and Clutier. In other business on Monday the supervisors approved: •the Veterans Affairs Commission quarterly report showing a total of $$1,916 in payments and expenses. •Alliant utility permits in Otter Creek and Buckingham townships. •weekly claims totaling $121,465.



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