County 911 Board OKs $3M upgrade to regional radio system
by Brian Anderson
banderson@annistonstar.com
Jun 27, 2013 | 2744 views |  0 comments | 99 99 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An 800 MHz radio that is currently used by most public safety agencies in Calhoun and Talladega counties.  (Photo: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
An 800 MHz radio that is currently used by most public safety agencies in Calhoun and Talladega counties. (Photo: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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JACKSONVILLE – Calhoun County’s emergency radio system is on its way to a major overhaul after a contract approval on Thursday night.

At its regular meeting, the Calhoun County 911 Board of Commissioners agreed to a contract with Motorola to upgrade its 800 megahertz radio system linking emergency first responders throughout the county. The 911 Board will take control of the system from the Alabama Regional Communication System in October.

The upgrade will take place in two phases. The first phase will begin in November, and the second will start next year and be completed by May. The upgrade will make the system one of the most advanced in the state of Alabama, said board chairman Mike Fincher.

The upgrade is long overdue, said Kevin Jenkins, the system’s administrator. The last time the system had been upgraded was in 2005, and it was reaching the point that parts needed for system upkeep were no longer available, he said.

The total cost of the upgrade is slightly more than $3 million. The contract offers the 911 board a two-year deferral for payments, with a 10-year payback plan. With interest, the system upgrade would cost the board an estimated $280,000 annually. Fincher said it’s his hope the two-year deferral will allow time for the board to get new users to the system and generate money through user fees. Fincher said existing 911 board of money will not be used to fund the upgrade.

The 911 board assumed control of the 800 MHz system in May after the Alabama Regional Communication System voted to dissolve due to lack of funds needed for an upgrade. Federal funding initially paid for the system in the 1990s when the Army kept its chemical weapons stockpile in Anniston. Funding stopped after the last of the weapons were destroyed in 2011.

Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.

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