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Tama Co. Supervisors-Expect new $6.5 million emergency, law enforcement radio system for Tama County By John Speer Central Iowa Press

December 6, 2018
Northern-Sun Print
“We do not have an option, the (emergency and law enforcement) system is at the end of its life,” Mindy Benson, Tama County Emergency Management coordinator and E911 director again emphasized to the Board of Supervisors on Monday, Dec. 3. “It’s critical to getting the first responders out the door, keeping public safety (personnel) safe and keeping the people of the communities safe.” Benson had laid out a E911 Board plan for replacement and upgrades to the 20-some year-old radio system on Oct. 29. At that time the supervisors sought more information and then heard on Nov. 13 from a Electronics Engineering representative who explained the state-wide system her company is providing to some areas. Benson said Monday the E911 Board decided to choose the RACOM system, “to keep costs down” and said “we control our own network -we make our own decisions.” A cost not to exceed $6,587,717 is the amount a bond issue will be set at to pay for the improvements. Because the radio communication system is a mandated service it does not require voter approval - the decision is left to the supervisors. Benson said the alternative state-wide system proposal does not allow for emergency medical service or fire paging, can exercise control over the system’s operation and would be projected to cost more. She told Tama-Grundy Newspapers on Tuesday some of the issues with the current radios relate to to frequency “narrow-banding” which are outdated. She also said “dead spots” for communication in areas of the the county are experienced. Once the bond issue gains approval of the supervisors, Benson said to expect a “two year build-out” for the new system to be fully operational. Larry Vest, board chair, said the supervisors’ timeline will be to approve the bond issue at some point during the first quarter of next year. Benson told supervisors she had searched for grant funding but was unable to identify any available. She said she had been told by a Homeland Security representative there is nothing being provided now. Thee E911 Board included new pagers and mobile radios for all fire, ambulance, sheriff’s office operations and police departments in the county in the proposal. The costs breakdown: •radio system infrastructure $2,670,875 •radio $1,108,526 •paging system and pagers $414,951 •towers and sites $2,392,820 - all to be county-owned Benson said space on the towers can be rented to cell phone providers to generate some return back to the county. The E911 Board membership is comprised of all area entities which provide service or protection to the county This includes all in-county based fire departments, ambulance services and first responders as well as bordering cities in other counties which provide these services among them, Belle Plaine Reinbeck and Gilman. In other business on Monday the supervisors: -set a public hearing for a proposed road classification for a portion of D Avenue south of Highway E27 in Carleton Township Sections 15 and 16 for Dec. 17. The change is requested by an adjoining landowner, Mike DeSchamp, who would like the road changed to “C” classification which includes a gated access. -approved a utility permit for Alliant Energy in Otter Creek Township. -approved appointment of Bryan Wacha to the County Conservation Board to fill the unexpired term of Ellen Graff to Dec. 31. Supervisors indicated they would then make Wacha’s appointment to a full term in January,2019. -approved the reappointment of Nick Podhajsky to the Compensation Board -approved claims totaling $432,051.



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