New radio system must be absolutely purposeful by the top of June Native information
HILLSDALE – Cole Vathauer and his crew at Hayden Tower Service Inc. have been working to complete an equipment building on the site of a future 250-foot tower on Harmony Road that will be one of the key links in the county’s new 800 megahertz emergency radio system .
Vathauer, site manager, said Thursday January 21st another crew should start stacking the tower in the coming days. The tower is adjacent to the Miami County’s # 2 Rural Water District operations on Harmony Road near Hillsdale Lake.
The day before, Dennis Ward, senior project manager at TUSA Consulting Services, had told Miami County’s agent, Motorola, that the 800 MHz radio system was expected to be fully operational by the end of June.
Commissioners voted in late October 2019 to purchase an 800 MHz radio system from Motorola to replace a malfunctioning VHF radio system that has been a headache for dispatchers and first responders across the county. The total cost of the system, site development for the towers, and a contingency allowance of $ 500,000 totaled approximately $ 8.5 million.
After completion, the 800 MHz radio system will be used by first aiders from all authorities in the district.
The conditions of the VHF system had deteriorated to the point where the County Commission declared a state of emergency in August 2019 for immediate assistance from the state to erect a temporary mobile signal tower in the parking lot behind the Louisburg EMS / Fire to support communication problems in this community and area.
The temporary tower is still in place today.
Ward informed commissioners on Wednesday that the city of Paola would be included in the new system by the end of February. The Harmony Road Tower should be operational sometime between late March and late April, Ward said. Louisburg, which uses the Harmony Road Tower, will connect to the system once that tower is operational, he said.
“You have the entire north end of the county (in the system),” Ward said of the projection from late March to April.
The southern end of the county will rely on a new 250-foot tower to be built in Wildwood, southern Miami County. Construction of this tower, which is the final piece of the five tower system strategically placed to form a loop that spans the entire county, has not yet begun. In addition to the construction of the Wildwood and Harmony Road towers, the radio system will use three existing towers.
Ward said the work to get the northern end of the county online first was due to the emergency declaration tied to the Louisburg radio system.
“We’re going to have a microwave system so all the towers can talk to each other,” said Ward.
Commissioner Danny Gallagher asked about the strength of the two towers under construction.
“We rated these towers at 155 mph,” said Ward. “We’re making this a little more robust because it’s public safety.”
Gallagher noted that the tower should be safe – just before it was hit by a tornado – but asked if a tower would collapse if that part of the county were out of service.
“It won’t be entirely dead, but it will be very degraded,” said Ward. “It’s a simulcast system. So if one of these towers falls down, the other towers will still transmit in that area so they will still be filled in.
“Instead of having a cover in the building, you might just be able to talk on the street through your car radio or portable device,” he said.
Once all the sites are created, the system is tested. Sheriff, police, fire and ambulance first responders will be involved in testing with the sheriff’s shipping center as these agencies will use the system on a daily basis, Ward said.
“It’s a network system and you’ll drive every street in the county and test the radio at points,” said Ward. “Communication is evaluated in both directions and at both ends.
“And Motorola has to pass 95 percent of the entire county on this test,” he said.
If the system isn’t rated 95 percent, Motorola is under a contract to fix the problem, Ward said.
“In six months’ time, Miami County will have a great wireless system that everyone will be using, and we look forward to it,” said Ward.