Originally created 03/10/99

Panel OKs new radio system



AIKEN -- The Judicial and Public Safety Committee of the Aiken County Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a contract for a new radio communication system.

Now representatives from the county fire departments, EMS and the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, along with representatives from the contractor, hope to have all the kinks worked out of the contract in time for the full county council to vote on it Monday.

"We are in a very difficult situation with our current communications center, and we need to move forward as quickly as possible," said District 3 Councilwoman LaWana McKenzie, chairwoman of the committee.

Representatives from Emergency Services Integrators answered questions from the committee during the meeting, as well as questions from firefighters and the sheriff's office regarding the company's proposed contract.

As the contract is written, the cost to the county of the upgrade will be $973,441, plus applicable sales taxes and maintenance fees. In exchange, the county will get four new dispatcher work stations, a new records management system and training for dispatchers on the new equipment.

The contract also includes five years of technical support and maintenance, costing $6,000 for the first year and $78,000 per year for the next four. It allows for the county to build or lease additional radio towers at its discretion, but the cost of doing so is not included in the price quote.

ESI representatives said additional towers probably won't be needed. However, District 1 Councilwoman Kathy Rawls and several firefighters asked the council to consider using additional radio towers to cover the radio dead spots.

Todd Bauer is a reporter for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.