The Medway Drug Enforcement Agency will purchase new radios to replace aging ones they received years ago from a police department no longer in existence.
Medway Director Don Hall told the Wayne County commissioners he could spend $14,000 now to upgrade the radios, only to have to replace them in a couple of years for about $50,000, or purchase them now at a discount. The cost is $42,300.
Commissioner Scott Wiggam asked how old the radios were.
Hall said the equipment will be obsolete soon. The radios used by agents were from the former Burbank Police Department. (Because of fiscal woes, the department was suspended in August 2000, later reinstated, but suspended again in November 2001 due to a lack of funds.)
"We have to keep up with the ever-changing radio systems and technology," Hall said.
"We're making progress on it," Commissioner Ann Obrecht said, a reference to the efforts under way to migrate public safety communications to the state's Multi-Agency Radio Communications System.
Obrecht said the county is working on getting space on an existing tower in New Pittsburg and constructing a tower in Marshallville. When those are in place, it will make communications even better for Medway.
Medway agents use MARCS radios now, and the new radios will also be MARCS-compliant.
Joe Villegas, director of Wayne County's Emergency Management Agency, has been working with fire officials from around the county on a grant to receive $50,000 per department for MARCS radios. All of the county's 17 fire departments and districts applied together for the funding.
Villegas is also working on other grants to help with offsetting the costs on the law enforcement side.
Hall said once the county is on MARCS, first responders will love the radios.
Commissioner Jim Carmichael had the chance to check out how well the MARCS radios and towers work when he rode with Lt. Ryan Koster of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office recently. He said communications were very clear, as if the person was standing right next to him.
Because of environmental and historical studies that must be done at the Marshallville site, there is no firm date as to when the transition will begin. Villegas is meeting with a vendor on Friday to get a quote on how much the studies will cost.
Reporter Bobby Warren can be reached at 330-287-1639 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He is @BobbyWarrenTDR on Twitter.