The final “large check” for a brand new radio system isn’t anticipated till late spring Nvdaily
Construction of the new public safety radio system in Shenandoah County continues. A preliminary test will be conducted to confirm the functionality of the system, according to Gary Yew, the county’s retired fire chief, which is expected to take place in late winter before the final “big test” in late spring who is working on the $ 11 million -Project.
Yew briefed the county’s Board of Supervisors on the project during Tuesday’s meeting. During that session, he showed photos of nearly completed towers and their surrounding buildings at the Fort Valley, Cottontown, Deerhead, Zepp and Sheriff’s Office locations, and listed the milestones that need to be checked off before the new radio system is fully operational is.
These future milestones include the completion of tower sites in Rude’s Hill on the southern end of the county and Lost River. Yew noted that construction of the tower at Rude’s Hill has been delayed and could take an additional six to eight weeks as the county had to float a balloon to 200 feet in response to concerns from “prospects” about building a tower on site (the height of the proposed tower) and take photos to see how intrusive such a structure would be.
At the Lost River site, the only location where the county will place its equipment on top of an existing TC Energy tower, the county is still waiting for the green light from the US Forest Service, which is leasing the land, according to Yew.
Other items that remain on the to-do list include installing new cell phones in local law enforcement and fire / rescue vehicles, as well as in some cooperating state and federal entities (about 500 vehicles total, Yew noted); Complete fleet mapping to determine how radio channels are aligned in the mobile and portable units (a process that Yew says is nearing completion thanks to the efforts of Mellanie Shipe, the county’s emergency communications director, and the collaboration of fire, rescue and law enforcement agencies Agencies); and the transition from the old emergency communications center to the new will be completed in the new sheriff’s office.
Once these steps are completed, the system can be tested.
“We were hoping to test while the leaves were still on the trees, but of course that won’t happen,” said Yew, who added that the county expects to be ready to “turn on” the new radio system in late winter. A final test takes place in late spring after the trees bloom again.
Yew noted during his presentation that most of the tower sites that comprise the new system have been completed, although the towers are still awaiting the installation of microwave dishes.
Each location – except in the sheriff’s office, where the electronic devices are housed in the new ECC – contains a connection to a generator that is powered by a liquid oil tank and powers the communication devices in a fortified shelter. These shelters, Yew said, are designed to “drop a stray ball”.
“They’re pretty bombproof, and they have to be,” he said. “Everything that matters, everything that keeps the communication system running will be in these shelters.”
Yew added that Shentel will run fiber optic cables to each location.
“It wasn’t something we needed to make communication easier. This primarily benefits the school department and improves the radio link to the bus fleet, ”said Yew. “It’s also a great backup for us, if we have the rare microwave breakdown we can go straight to the fiber so everything will work very, very well. And Shentel does this for free for the county, and getting fiber optic is quite a challenge in many of these locations. “
A photo of the Fort Valley site shows a red and white tower, which Yew says was a mistake by Motorola who was hired to do the project. Yew said the company will paint the tower gray to match the galvanized appearance of the other towers.
The tower at the Cottontown site, Yew said, was designed to solve previous problems with transmitting reliable radio signals to Cedar Creek Valley and Rt. 55 west corridor.
At the Zepp site, where a new tower was installed next to the one currently in use, Yew said the old tower would stay in place as soon as the new radio system is up and the county leaves the option of renting or leasing antennas open the structure.
Yew noted that the old fire tower that houses the antennas at the Deerhead site will be preserved and the county is studying what it would cost to renovate the structure, which he believes has not been manned as a fire station since the 1960s.
Yew praised the response the crews had received from the county’s residents while working on the project, particularly those in Fort Valley who saw the area’s trash compactor shut down for safety when the radio tower was built nearby , as well as the landfill staff of the district, to facilitate this, the closure of the compressor.
District 5 supervisor Dennis Morris praised Yew’s kindness and willingness to tweak certain aspects to ease the burden on affected residents, including improvements to some of the private roads the construction workers used to access the sites.
“We took steps where we could and where it was sensible to keep our neighbors happy,” said Yew, “and I think that’s very, very important.”
Yew thanked the Fort Valley Fire Department for allowing dumpsters to be placed on their property while the local compressor site was closed, the Conicville Volunteer Fire Department for allowing the county to store construction equipment, and Woodstock for ensuring the county could safely store materials its public works facility.