County seeks emergency radio upgrade But $6.3 million funding is uncertain


Carroll commissioners voted unanimously yesterday that the county should apply for federal permission to upgrade its emergency radio communications system, giving supporters hope that the project will be funded.

Last month, the Planning Commission recommended to the commissioners that the $6.3 million project not be funded in the coming fiscal year because money is tight.

"The time is now. We ought to submit our application," Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said.

But the commissioners' vote does not mean they are sold on the idea of buying a new emergency radio system.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell told Director of General Services J. Michael Evans and other emergency services personnel yesterday that he still is not convinced a new system is crucial.

"Can we get along for a while?" with the current system, he asked during a meeting at the County Office Building.

The current system is overloaded and would need to be upgraded if a new system isn't installed, Mr. Evans said. An upgrade might cost as much as a new system, he added.

The new system, which would include towers, radios and eight channels, would allow emergency personnel to communicate more efficiently.

The county currently has three channels, one of which is used only to call for aid from other counties' departments.

The current system was built in the early 1960s, said Howard "Buddy" Redman, chief of the Bureau of Emergency Operations Services.

So far, the county has spent only $90 on the radio project for color charts showing likely tower sites, Mr. Evans said.

The application process will take about a year.

The county will not have to spend any more money until September, when it will need $6,500 to $8,000 for the second stage of the application process, Mr. Evans said.

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