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City council to revisit new radios

By Sara McManamy-Johnson sjohnson@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Mar 6, 2014 at 10:40 AM

The Lebanon City Council may give its final go-ahead Thursday for a major upgrade to the city’s radio communications.

Councilors Tuesday approved the first reading to fund an emergency purchase of a new radio communication system for the city’s police, fire, public safety and public works department.

The requested money, more than $436,000, would be used to buy radios and related equipment and dispatch equipment for the upgrade.

Council will consider it on second reading Tuesday during a special called meeting.

“The radio system has been a challenge for some time,” said Lebanon police Chief Scott Bowen.

He explained that with the terrain within Wilson County, emergency responders have several areas within the county where departments’ current radios don’t work. 

“For us, [the radios] are our lifeline,” said Bowen.

He said officers can’t communicate with each other or with dispatch when they’re in one of the dead spots. 

The issue is not limited to the police department, said Bowen. 

The fire department, public works and public safety have reported the same issues, according to Bowen and Mayor Philip Craighead.

Additionally, the city’s different departments can’t communicate with one another using the existing radio system, which creates issues during emergencies requiring multi-department responses.

Although the issue isn’t a new one, it’s reached a new urgency in recent months. 

A recently enacted federal law changed the allowed specifications for the departments’ communications frequencies, narrowing the available bandwidth and further reducing the system’s coverage area.

Additionally, one of the key components in the radio system was damaged in recent storms. The cost to replace it would be between $7,500 and $10,000.

Instead of investing thousands of dollars in a piece of equipment that would need to be replaced to fix the issue with dead spots, officials believe it’s simply time to fix the problem.

Time is also of the essence because the company selling the system is offering a rebate credit that will no longer be offered in April.

In other business, council will consider second readings of the following items:

• A line item transfer for the sanitation department for overtime;

• Bids for radios and accessories for the street, sanitation and public works departments;

• Bids for one storage building for Don Fox Park;

• Bids for the T-Hangar Row E project at Lebanon Municipal Airport;

• Bids for propane and electric heaters for the water plant;

• Bids for one compressed natural gas refuse truck for the sanitation department;

City council will meet Thursday at 4 p.m. in the Town Meeting Hall, located at 200 N. Castle Heights Ave.

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