By Phyllis Zorn
Marion County Record – February 15, 2017
A new radio communication system for the county’s emergency departments was the topic of discussion at a Thursday evening meeting.
About 50 city and county leaders, fire department and law enforcement representatives, and other emergency responders discussed a proposed upgrade of the county’s radio system.
The county has talked for many years about possibly installing an 800 MHz communication system, and county commissioners put money for its costs into the 2017 budget.
This would mean all emergency departments in the county have to replace their old radio equipment or lose the ability to communicate with one another.
Commissioner Randy Dallke told the group it’s time for the existing communications system to be upgraded.
“A system only lasts so long,” Dallke said.
Dallke estimated the current system might last another five years.
Sheriff Rob Craft said the system will operate much like the one already in use. When all departments have 800 MHz radios, all will be able to communicate with each other and with dispatch.
Marion is already planning to purchase nine portable and eight dash-mounted KNG model radios for the police department, 14 portable radios for the fire department, and antennas, mounting brackets and associated supplies from Relm Wireless.
The city has applied for an $11,000 USDA Rural Development grant to help pay for the police department equipment. If the grant comes through, the cost is expected to be $21,821 for the police department and $32,367 for the fire department.
Holter said this year’s Byrne Grant from the Department of Justice might also be an option.
“One of the purposes in this year’s grant is for radio equipment in inoperable condition,” Holter said.
Holter said he also has reached out to the Association of Firefighters.
One member of the audience asked why money from 911 surcharges is not being used, but was told there is not enough in the fund.
The meeting was the first talking session between county emergency responders about the county’s proposed new radio system. Dallke asked the various departments to provide him information on what their needs are.