MONTROSE - Lee County's emergency responders are about a month away from getting new digital radios that will enhance reception service to better than 95% of the county.
At Thursday's Lee County 911 Control Board meeting at the sheriff's office, LeeComm Director Travis Solem said testing is currently underway and should wrap up in the next few days, a full three weeks ahead of schedule.
Solem said originally the testing was set for three to four weeks and Motorola's contractor has been testing for the past three days, hoping to finish by Monday.
"Right now we're at about 96.05% in the county and we've been focusing on areas that have been trouble areas in the past," Solem said.
"I would imagine that number would go up probably to 97%," Solem said.
The contract with Motorola gaurantees 95% service throughout the county. County first responders began the process of trying to replace the analog system about three years ago by giving presentations at area cities and townships in the county.
The project carried a pricetag of $6.9 million which will be funded with debt service from the E911 board and about $600,000 in initial upfront funding.
The new system will also align county emergency crews with the Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications System (ISICS), a 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 Motorola Solutions contract included the construction of a new tower, upgrades to two existing towers and use of an existing ISICS tower in the county.
Solem said portable radios should be rolled out to all departments in September and those will be used until the mobile devices are installed in the vehicles. He said all the radios are in the county's possession and contractors are hoping to do all the installations at the Lee County Economic Development Group's Montrose office.
He said that wouldn't be a mandatory location, but those that are wanting mobile devices installed at individual departments may have to wait longer.
"They're not opposed to doing it, but what theyll end up doing is every department that is willing to come to the centralized location will get theirs done first, and those that aren't will be second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth...," Solem said.
In other action, the board:
•approved four additional radios for Fort Madison Police Department. The department has added three vehicles including a community service officer, a K9-unit and a second detective. The cost of those radios would be just over $18,000. The city will pay for the installations of the additional radios.
•approved contracts for upgrades to the LeeComm 911 CPE systems including past contract fees for a total $48,000 and providing maintenance through July 2023.
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