Progress continuing on county’s narrow-band project

Published 9:27 pm Friday, October 26, 2012

E-911 Director Tonya Griffin told the Decatur County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that work is continuing on the county’s mandatory upgrade to narrow-band communications.

The federal government is requiring all local public safety radio stations to change from the current “broadband” wavelength to a “narrow-band” frequency, by Dec. 31, 2012. This change will free up other parts of the communications spectrum.

Griffin said Tuesday that she, Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin, Bainbridge Director of Public Safety Eric Miller, and Cairo Fire Chief Jim Fielding visited the Motorola plant in Schaumburg, Ill., several weeks ago. Motorola is building the equipment necessary for the upgrades in Decatur and Grady counties.

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“We tested the new system there and everything tested fine,” she said. “There were a few issues that we identified, but we were able to get them fixed while we were there.”

Tonya Griffin said that, as of Tuesday evening, much of the heavy equipment was already either on site, or in Thomasville, Ga., waiting for delivery. The portable and mobile radios have already been delivered to both Decatur and Grady counties.

“We can use the new portables on the old system, but they’re also programmed for the new system,” she said. “Logistic-wise, when we start swapping them out, we won’t have to worry about carrying two different portable radios.”

Griffin said that contractors are currently examining the structure of several communications towers in the two counties, to ensure that they will be structurally sound when the new equipment is added. She noted that Decatur County’s tower on Spring Creek Road may require some improvements before it is ready.

When asked by Commissioner Frank Loeffler if it will cost extra money to refurbish the Spring Creek Road tower, Griffin said it could be between $50,000 to $100,000, based upon the extent of the repairs. She noted that a similar tower in Grady County also required improvements.

Overall, Griffin seemed confident that the county should be able to complete the project in a timely manner.

“Boots are on the ground, and things are getting done every day,” she said.
County Administrator Gary Breedlove credited Griffin for her work on the upgrades.

“She has been working diligently, for months,” he said.

The initial estimated cost for the upgrades is $1.48 million for Decatur County, $252,000 for the City of Bainbridge, and $326,000 for the Decatur County Board of Education. To pay for its portion, the county signed a $1.5 million loan, with a term of five years and an interest rate of 1.8 percent, with monthly payments of $26,000 per month.

In other business, the county:

• Approved the purchase of two signs from Quality Sign of Bainbridge, at a cost of $2,287. These signs will be installed at the Cloud Livestock Facility and the new agriculture building, which will tentatively be officially recognized as the “Thomas E. ‘Tommy’ Wheeler Agricultural Center” on Monday, Nov. 26.

• Learned from Breedlove that the county had to withdraw $150,000 from its Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) loan on Oct. 11, in order to make payroll. There is $880,000 remaining from the original $3 million loan, which must be repaid, with county property tax revenues, by Dec. 31.

• Agreed to contribute $10,000 to the Climax Volunteer Fire Department, toward the department’s annual payments on a new fire truck. Commissioners explained that the CVFD serves most of southeastern Decatur County, and not just inside the Climax city limits.

• Accepted the errors and reliefs report from Tax Commissioner Donald Belcher.