County continues discussion on new radio system

The Marion County Board of Commissioners talked with Sheriff Robert Craft on Monday about changes in the frequency band from a 400 MHz to an 800 MHz system on handheld radios and in patrol cars.

“How do you want to proceed or not proceed on the lease purchase for 2017?” Craft said. “The current system needs improving and it would be big money fixing or replacing it.”

When the telecommunication company went to a narrow band of frequencies, Craft explained, the county dispatch lost 25 to 40 percent communication capability.

“We can’t stand to lose another 25 to 40 percent,” he said. “If we don’t change (to the 800 MHz system) we will be forced to put up more towers and repeaters.”

Commission chairman Randy Dallke said his understanding was that before the next budget year, the county would talk with every city that has a police and/or fire department.

“(The county) would buy the equipment upfront and cities and fire departments would then pay us back,” Dallke said.

As an example, if the county bought 20 radios at $5,000 each, the cost would be $100,000.

“None of the cities budgeted for radios, and are all operating on the old system,” Craft said. “We will keep the old system until all are on.”

Dallke said he believed the budget was set at about $180,000 for the 800 system with $60,000 earmarked for dispatch and $120,000 for the sheriff’s office.

In addition, a mandated new screen system will replace the 911 system with Next Generation 911, Craft said.

Commissioner Dan Holub saw the new system in Hutch­inson.

The NG911 is through the state’s Internet Protocolbased system allowing digital information to flow continuously from the public through the 911 network and on to emergency responders, Craft said.

“It had real-time information, the mapping was incredible and the cell phone tracking was so much better,” Holub said.

Dallke asked Craft about competent companies to deal with the 800 MHz system change.

“I don’t have a valid opinion,” Craft said. “We talked to four different radio vendors, but we’re not committed to anybody. We will use the best and most economical.”

Craft said he would not go forward with ordering until the commissioners discussed it again in the near future.

Water testing

Emma Tajchman, county planning and zoning department, and Susan Robson, county attorney, requested the commissioners consider a new contract regarding water testing.

“We are not a certified lab for water testing,” Tajchman said. “I checked to see how many counties are still doing water testing, but don’t have definite numbers.”

Dallke asked if the county is falling back with the testing because there could be a chemical in the water the county isn’t testing for.

The kits are $15, Tajchman said, but they are time sensitive and difficult to get from here to Hutchinson in 24 hours.

“The county doesn’t pay for getting the tests to Hutch­inson,” she said. “We give the kit and some instructions.”

Holub said if someone is concerned or wants their water certified as safe, they can send it off.

Robson was available to work up the contract stating the county is not a lab or responsible for water certification.

Other business

In other business, the commissioners:

• heard from Road and Bridge superintendent Jesse Hamm that Shannon Ehlers was hired as an office assistant.

• Four bids were received for the construction and engineering project at the Florence bridge, three-quarters of a mile south of U.S. Highway 50. The low bid of $878,529 was submitted by Bridges Inc., Newton. The county’s matching fund amount is $194,000.

• approved the transport fuel bid of $14,800 for diesel and unleaded gasoline submitted by Cooperative Grain & Supply, Hillsboro. Cardie Oil, Tampa, bid $15,018.

• requested a collections report from Ed Debesis, director of EMS. Debesis said he believed $145,000 was collected on ambulance runs, but would have an accurate report at the next meeting.

• learned there were 85 ambulance runs in October, and Debesis said there were 107 the same time last year.

• heard from Craft about one of their vehicles being damaged when a deer was struck on 120th Road, west of Goldenrod. The cost to fix the car was $1,700.

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