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County approves radio tower

Still up to city to grant zoning variance

Staff writer

Marion County will apply for a variance with the City of Marion to place a 92-foot radio tower in the property surrounding the new jail. The commission agreed at an earlier meeting to not place the tower on top the jail.

The county will ask the city to schedule a special meeting with the planning and zoning board. If a meeting is scheduled for next week, the tower could be installed by the end of July, Emergency Management Director Dan D’Albini said.

However, if the county cannot secure a special meeting, it may take eight weeks before the tower can be installed provided the variance is approved. The time waiting for the tower would hinder the move of communications equipment and personnel to the new jail which is scheduled for completion in July.

D’Albini and Communications Director Linda Klenda discussed working out of the communications trailer for longer than the previously prescribed three to five days during the move but also placing a fiber optic cable between jails to use the old communications tower. The fiber optic option would cost the county at least $700 for switches and wiring.

The commission approved a bid from TBS Communications Inc. for $41,651, which includes tower installation and moving communications equipment from the old jail to the new building. There was a lower bid. K-Com set the lowest price for the tower at $31,000 but required the county to pay for installation.

“You would get what you bought,” D’Albini said of K-Com.

The commission’s dissatisfaction with K-Com was spawned with the company’s maintenance of communications equipment in the county.

K-Com is under contract to maintain repeaters in every city except Burns, Goessel, and Marion, the equipment for dispatch at the jail, and the communications trailer.

The contract is up in July. The commission voted to go with TBS for service. Commissioners were unhappy with K-Com’s work on equipment, especially in Florence. Commission Chairman Dan Holub said the company had not fulfilled their contract by providing regular reports to the county.

“We’re not getting what we paid for,” Holub said.

K-Com President Craig Fischer said the radios in Florence are to blame, not the repeater or dispatch equipment.

“I don’t think I should be held accountable for their radios,” Craig Fischer said. “We have checked the Florence equipment — it works perfectly fine. I don’t think I should be held accountable for somebody else’s work.”

K-Com currently charges $540 a month for their service. The bid they submitted to renew their contract was for $740 and that did not cover some of the equipment they previously maintained, D’Albini said.

The bid from TBS was $12,960 a year, to be broken in two semi-annual payments. The figure breaks into monthly installments of $1,080, but TBS provides full-time service and covers all of the county’s communications equipment.

In other business, methamphetamine lab fire training was conducted Saturday on property at 150th and Jade for Marion County volunteer fire fighters. The land was donated to the county for training.

Last modified June 27, 2012

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