911 Board Member Wants Record of County Communications Grants


Published on June 11 2013 4:46 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 12:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Saying he wants to avoid future interoperability issues, a member of the Effingham County 911 Board Tuesday asked for all records related to efforts by the county sheriff's department to obtain grant funds for its communication system.

Member Ted Heath asked for records back to 2005.  Heath specifically requested:

--copies of all grant applications filed by the Effingham County Sheriff's Office to state or federal agencies that are related in some way to communications issues

--copies of all documents from federal or state agencies related to the approval of grants for communication-related issues

--copies of any documents the sheriff's office sent back to the federal or state agencies related to communication grants in which the office documented how the funds were used

--copies of the Effingham County Sheriff's Office RFP documents sent to vendors since 2005 specifying requirements for the sheriff's department's high band radio system

--a list of vendors that the office sent high band specification requirements to, in which the office invited them to submit bids to deliver the system

--a copy of all bids received from vendors in response to the RFP for the sheriff's department high band system

--a copy of all the invoices paid to vendors since 2005 related to the sheriff's department high band system or other communication systems.

Heath said interoperability has been a problem since the city police department began utilizing a Star Com system and the county starting developing a high band communication system.  A bridge had been in place recently to improve communication between city and county officers when out of their vehicles and using portable radios, but the "bridge" was not an option after the radio being used to bridge the two systems was removed.

Heath said having the records requested would help 911 "have a good understanding of how these events developed and in order to learn from history and hopefully avoid future interoperability issues."

Later Tuesday, Effingham County Sheriff John Monnet said dollars and cents is the reason that the City and County have different communication systems. 

Monnet said when the push was on to switch to Star Com, the County requested $500,000 in federal grant funds.  They instead received $140,000.  Another factor was that Motorola, the agency that oversees Star Com, charges $35/month per radio to send and receive calls off the Motorola tower.  He said the combination of far less grant money than requested and the ongoing monthly charges per radio led to the search for a less costly system.

Monnet said the high band system was more affordable and radios utilizing high band did not come with the monthly fee associated with Star Com.  He said the high band system also allows the County to stay in contact with the ambulance service and with county fire departments that are also not on Star Com.

Heath was also disappointed that Loy, a member of the 911 Board, was not present to consider the requests for information he sought.

Also Tuesday...

The 911 Board said negotiations continue between Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler and Intertech Associates, the firm selected to do a study of the efficiency of the county 911 system.  Language issues are apparently the holdup, and officials think the contract could be finalized within the week.

911 board members voted to approve pay increases for Tina Daniels and Joyce Worman, who work for Effingham County but also for 911.  The 911 Board agreed several years ago to concur with increases for 911 employees who also work for the County.  Daniels and Worman will receive a 2% pay increase for this year, retroctive to the start of the year, and a 2.5% pay hike for 2013-2014 for their work for 911.

Tuesday's meeting was the last for retiring Effingham County Emergency Management Agency Director Russ Thomas, who leaves the Board after 17 years.