"The state patrol, statewide, is going to a regional radio concept," said state patrol Lt. Donnie Smith. "We currently operate 48 patrol posts and each patrol post has its own radio room. Those are being consolidated into nine regional radio rooms."
This reduces the number of needed operators from 25 to 17, he said.
It will also improve the efficiency of radio traffic.
Once the 10,500-square-foot facility on Chamblin Road is complete, the radio room will replace those in Thomson, Washington, Milledgeville, Madison and Conyers.
"Basically, it'll cover from the state line down (Interstate 20) to Dekalb County at (Interstate 285), north to Athens and south to Macon," Lt. Smith said.
The lieutenant said the radio rooms will mostly be funded by a federal Homeland Security grant from the state.
Using 1-cent sales tax dollars, Columbia County is footing the bill for the $2 million facility, which will replace the Thomson post.
Commissioners approved last week transferring about $4,600 meant for an administrative office to the regional radio room for console construction.
The state is providing another $16,000. Lt. Smith expects the post to open in September.
The Columbia County facility will be one of the first state patrol posts outfitted with a regional radio room.
"That was one of the selling points for Columbia County helping build that patrol post," Lt. Smith said. "If you've got that communications center, that means that post will be open many long years from now."
Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or firstname.lastname@example.org.