New radio system will include new tower

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

MONTROSE – More details were released on the approved new digital radio communications system Tuesday morning.

Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber put out a release outlining the specifics of the upgrade which carries an initial price tag of right at $6.3 million that will come from county coffers.

An additional $600,000 has been dedicated from the E911 board to offset some of the tax requirements of the initial upgrade costs. Up to another $1 million is being planned out of E911 money for maintenance on the system beginning four years from now. Warranties on the system will cover maintenance until that time.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors has already approved a contract with Motorola to begin the work, and a funding mechanism for $6 million in bonds was approved Monday.

According to a release from Weber Monday, the new system will align Lee County first responders with the Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications System (ISICS), a Project 25 (P25) land mobile radio network that enables first responders to communicate seamlessly and securely with one another, even if they are outside of their normal areas of operation.

“The safety of our citizens and first responders is our highest priority, and we are pleased to invest in modern, mission-critical communications technology that improves and informs our response to emergencies,” said Sheriff Stacy Weber.

“The new system will connect police, fire, ambulance, conservation and other government agencies within Lee County to each other as well as with others across the state, so we can dispatch the appropriate resources and work together to resolve incidents quickly and efficiently with modern and reliable equipment.”

Fort Madison Fire Chief Joey Herren led an effort to garner the support of all municipal governmental bodies over the past year.

“The Lee County Fire Association supports this radio project. We, the PSAP board, did present to all of the City Councils in Lee County and they have also sent letters of support to the Lee County Board of Supervisors,” Herren said.

After a request for proposals for the new for 911 radio system was put out publicly, the county selected Motorola Solutions, the provider of the ISICS system, for the upgrade.

The need for the new system was identified during an evaluation by the county’s radio consultant, Federal Engineering. That audit showed the county’s aging VHF radio system was not meeting current public safety needs.

The Motorola Solutions contract includes the construction of a new tower, upgrades to two existing towers and use of an existing ISICS tower in Lee County.

The company will provide new dispatch consoles along with three years of service, maintenance and software upgrades as part of the main proposal. All first responders in the county will receive new Motorola Solutions APX mobile and portable radios and digital pagers.

Lee County expects the improved interoperability through ISICS will be particularly valuable during times of natural disasters. The severe derecho that heavily impacted cities across the state last August reaffirmed the importance of public safety communications that can withstand extreme weather conditions.

The timeline for deployment will be approximately two years due to construction of the new tower. County officials plan to get radios shipped, programmed and installed sooner to take advantage of the ISICS coverage within the county today.

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