Newton County breaks floor on tower for incoming E-911 radio system

OXFORD, Georgia – Newton County will no longer have public safety dead spots next summer.

District officials and first responders gathered outside the No. 9 Newton County Fire Station, located at 176 Mt. Zion Road in Oxford to break ground on Thursday for the construction of the first of three towers that will help take the county’s public safety communications system to new heights.

In June 2020, the Newton County Board of Commissioners approved a contract with Motorola for a new emergency radio system. Despite an initial estimate of $ 3.6 million, the radio system will cost more than $ 14 million to install, according to County Manager Lloyd Kerr, but is being paid for in part through SPLOST funding.

“Every time you and everyone else here in the county spend a dollar, a penny goes to support projects like this that help our community be a safer and better place, so we thank everyone for that,” said he

Kerr said the new radio system would increase the county’s radio coverage by up to 98%, giving us the ability to speak in places we could never communicate before.

“This is a great moment for us,” Kerr said during the ceremony.

However, after the ceremony was over, Sheriff Ezell Brown told The Covington News that he recalled a time when the radio system was top notch with an extended area of ​​coverage. He was excited to see the county’s communications return to this level.

“What I see today is coverage like we once had,” said Brown. “I can speak of this from the dinosaur era – about 48 years ago when we could talk from one end of the county to the other end.” Of the county. We could talk from one county to the next. And we’ve talked from base station to car station, from Newton County to Perry, Georgia. So I have a feeling that Motorola is going to send us back to where we should have been all along.

“My position is: we got to where we are today by agreeing and not agreeing,” he continued. “That got us to where we are today, and I’m proud of that. I am proud to know that the equipment and tools the dispatchers will have will be state of the art. That said, they’re no better than the equipment they have to use. So, I’m excited. “

Brown said he believes the current county coverage is below 50%.

At the opening of the ceremony, Chairman Marcello Banes recalled a conversation he had had about five years ago, shortly after his election, about the need for an improved radio system.

“I remember a phone call I got from the Porterdale Police Chief and he said, ‘Mr. Chairman, we have a few dead spots in Porterdale and we really need to fix that, ”said Banes. “I want to say that today we are taking the first steps to achieve this.”

Covington Mayor Steve Horton, a former police officer, spoke about the importance of a solid communications system.

“I have a bit of a public safety background, so I understand how important and important 911 is to all of us – not just to those in public safety, but to all of us,” said Horton. “Much like a bridge connects an island to the mainland, the E-911 operation connects our citizens and our businesses in this community with the people and authorities – generally public safety agencies – who can help them in times of need and crisis. As a result, E-911 staff answering the phones and operating the radios are often the first and sometimes the last call made when people need help at their worst. In these times, competent, well-trained staff and adequate equipment and support structures, as we have here today, are essential for a positive result. ”

Horton also expressed appreciation for the local first responders and thanked them for their service to the community.

“You work in a very stressful and sometimes very ungrateful environment, but I want you to know that what you do is vital to all of us in our community,” he said. “You know, not everyone can do the jobs you do.”

911 director Trudy Henry, who was publicly praised for leading the prosecution of the new radio system, spoke briefly during the ceremony. She implored how grateful she was to the leaders of the county and everyone who has been involved in the project so far.

“The public safety radio system is an important part of my day-to-day work, and it’s important that these guys standing around in uniform are safe and know that when they make a call, they’ll pull it out and let us know what they need. ”She said. “It’s exciting. It’s been a lot of hard work and there will be a lot more work to come.”

District 3 Commissioner Alana Sanders was also at the groundbreaking ceremony. She talked about spending time with Henry recently on a county tour to learn more about the roles of each department. She also thanked the district leaders for coming together and carrying out the project.

“I had the opportunity to sit with you [Henry] and her staff for an hour to see what they are doing, ”she said. “I had a circle tour and visited each section in the circle and sat with them for an hour or more to see what they were doing. How [Henry] know that I love technology, so I am excited for this opportunity to move forward in Newton County, District 3, and your department, Trudy. Whatever it is with technology, that’s what I’m here for. Thank you Motorola for taking us to the next level, and thank you to Newton County and my fellow board members and the chairmen for making this possible. “

Project advisors said the new radio system is expected to be operational “around this time next year”.

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