No grant, no work on radio problem, says mayor
Mar 15, 2013 (The Morehead News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Mayor David Perkins said if the city doesn't get a grant, it will not pay for improvements to two-way radios used by all emergency service agencies.
City Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution for the city to apply to the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security for a $12,000 grant for Communication Infrastructure in the form of a remote "voter" site.
Diversity combining, or "voting", in two-way radio systems is a method for improving the talk-back range from handheld and vehicular-mounted mobile radios.
Perkins said the odds of getting such a grant are slim.
"Without a grant, the city's not going to go out and spend money for something that only benefits a couple of areas," Perkins said.
The Haldeman and Elliottville fire districts are where most of the problems occur, according to Magistrate Darryl Glover.
Glover said it would take $20,000 to fix the problem.
The problem apparently arose when local emergency response agencies were required to change radio frequencies because of new regulations by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
"There was a trial and error period when we went off of wide band to narrow band," said Magistrate Ray White, who is a Fiscal Court representative on the E-911 board. "The switch flicked at the same time as the city went to narrow band. It took a few weeks to figure out. Now that we've gone to such a narrow band, it makes it much, much worse."
White said problems with radio communications will become "even worse."
"Right now we have the best reception range by line of sight but that line of sight is obstructed when the foliage appears," he said. "We're losing contact with our ambulances at times."
Police Chief Mike Adams said the sheriff's department is concerned about blackout zones and he understands the city started working on a solution last month.
"We're trying to determine if we can reconfigure some of the towers and utilize equipment we already have to propagate the signal without spending any more money," Adams said.
He said everyone's top priority is to keep the public safe.
White said at last month's Fiscal Court meeting that the matter is a life and health safety issue.
"We have no reason to believe the city would hesitate with this," White said. "It's just logistical issues."
He said the E-911 charter clearly states the issues are up to the city to financially resolve.
The emergency radio systems all use a Triangle Hill tower owned by the City of Morehead.
"There are some technical things having to do with our site up on Triangle Mountain," Perkins said. "The police department and some other city agencies are having some issues. We think maybe we'll be able to fix those and it may help the overall situation with the county departments but I don't know why this has come up all of a sudden."
Perkins said the same problems have been going on for as long as he can remember, and he doesn't understand why county officials are pushing for improvements now.
Judge-Executive Jim Nickell had agreed at last month's Fiscal Court meeting to send an urgent letter to the mayor, and encourage him to "proceed with expediency."
Nickell later said there was no issue because the city is resolving the situation.
If the city gets a grant to pay for a remote voter site, the site would increase the two-way radio reception on the Operations Repeater 1 and promote two way radio reception in the Haldeman/Elliottville areas of the County.
"We will not do anything unless we get a grant," Perkins said.
Nicole Back can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 784-4116.
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