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Caroline advances radio project

Caroline County continues to take steps toward using its new public safety radio communications system in November.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the board approved a lease agreement to use two of Hanover County’s existing towers.

Those two towers will be part of the six-tower system that Caroline will use. Three of the other towers are in Caroline and one is right on the border between Caroline and Essex counties.

The two sites in Hanover are in Beaverdam and Doswell. Space will be provided on each tower for a 700 MHz transmit antenna, a 700 MHz receive antenna and a 6.2 GHz microwave antenna.

The tower in Doswell will also have a VHF transmit/receive antenna for paging.

Caroline will also be able to use space inside the equipment shelters at both sites.

The county will pay Hanover County $38,500 annually for the lease of the two towers. The total paid for the six sites will be about $100,000 per year.

In addition, Caroline will purchase five Trac 9100 units, similar to GPS units, from Hanover County. These units were originally part of the contract Caroline signed with Motorola. But the county was able to purchase them from Hanover for half the cost, said County Administrator Charles M. Culley Jr. The total cost of the units is $74,320.

Last June, the Board of Supervisors approved a contract with Motorola to purchase a new public safety radio communications system. In response to a federal mandate, the new system will nearly double the coverage area of the current system.

With the county’s current outdated system. vehicle radios cover about 82 percent of Caroline, and portable radios cover 42 percent.

With the new system, vehicle radios will cover about 95 percent of Caroline and portable radios will work in 92.5 percent.

The radio system will cost the county $6.5 million, for which Culley has designated 3 cents of a proposed 11-cent real estate tax increase in his proposed budget for next year.

In preparation to get the system online, several county staff members, dispatchers and deputies from the Sheriff’s Office are in Chicago at Motorola’s headquarters learning about how the system works.

The folks at Motorola assembled the system that will be used in Caroline County. Culley said staff members are witnessing the tests.

Once the system is operational, it will be broken down and shipped down to Radio Communications of Virginia, which will install the system in Caroline.

There will be a period when both systems—the old and the new—are online.

Everyone who will use the new system will be trained on it, as well.

Culley said that the county is right on budget on the project and staff is finalizing all the numbers.

“It’s moving along, we’re still on schedule,” he said. “We’re excited to have it coming to the finish line and have our system online.”

In other business Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors:

Approved refinancing of 2002 series bonds, which will save the county $1.1 million over 10 years.

Held a public hearing on raising the county’s water rates 5 percent. Another public hearing is scheduled for April.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413

rsidersky@freelancestar.com

 

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