Chesterton Tribune



Porter County Commissioners to pay for 70 percent of small communities' 911 radios

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The Porter County Commissioners announced at their meeting Tuesday that they will match 70 percent of the cost of new 911 radios for departments in townships that lack state funding.

First responders will need new equipment that is compatible with the county’s new 800 megahertz 911 system, which is expected to go live in March. The purchase includes both car radios and personal radios. The Commissioners chose Chesterton-based Bartronics Inc. to provide most of the equipment. Active-duty Sheriff’s deputies will carry Motorolas, and the remainder of the radios will be EF Johnson models.

Radios for high priority locations, such as the County Jail, Highway Department, and Police and Fire Departments in each community, will be purchased first. Some communities and departments can use state funds to purchase the radios, but others do not have enough. For departments in need of assistance, the county will offer a 70-percent match, leaving them to foot only 30 percent of the bill.

The South Haven FD will receive $116,052.58 of the total cost of $165,789.40; the Washington Township FD, $36,864.45 of $52,663.50; the Kouts PD, $26,231.38 of $37,473.40; and the Hebron PD, $37,920.75 of $54,172.50. The Kouts FD has secured federal grant money to cover its costs.

The Commissioners voted unanimously to appropriate $1.2 million out of hospital sale principle to cover the cost of the radio equipment, as did the County Council previously. Commissioner President Jeff Good, R-Center, said that hospital principle money is viewed as sacred, but he believes the upgrade is a good use for it. “I can’t think of anything better for spending hospital principle money than getting our 911 up to speed.”

Good also reported that the cost of implementing the new 911 system looks like it will come in significantly under budget. A year ago, Good said, the project total was estimated to exceed $8 million, but now may come in as low as $6.3 million. Good credits collaborating with the state and cooperation from Motorola and Bartronics for the savings.

Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, on the other hand, voiced concerns that residents may not be able to pick up transmissions from the 800-megahertz system on personal police scanners. He noted that LaPorte County implemented a similar system and received such complaints from residents. Public Safety Director Mike Brickner, however, said that any problems are with the scanners--not the system--and added that residents who do not have a top-of-the-line scanner may need to upgrade once the new system goes live. “It’s up to the public to invest in the right type of scanner. It is not an infrastructure issue or a radio issue for us.”


Posted 11/16/2017




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