By Kristin Rover
Clermont County Commissioners have recently approved several upgrades to radio towers in Clermont County and are considering a contract with the state once the the towers have up-to-date technology.
“It’s been an ongoing process,” Commissioner Ed Humphrey said about the upgrades. “We are thrilled we can upgrade for public safety agencies.”
Humphrey said the technology used on the existing towers throughout the county was becoming obsolete and they were having trouble repairing and replacing the old technology.
He said they are also considering becoming a part of the Ohio Multi-Agency Radio Communication System, or MARCS system, that provides state-wide radio access to subscribers.
“We are considering joining the state-wide MARCS system,” Humphrey said. “That will give our county a chance to communicate across the line.”
Humphrey said being able to communicate with other counties can benefit emergency service personnel.
Ralph Justus, project manager and special assistant to the county administrator, said the installation of the technology has been ongoing.
“The county has an 800 megahertz system now since about 1999,” Justus said.
Justus said they have begun a series of projects to upgrade all of the system components on the towers throughout the county.
“We are working on the microwave,” Justus said about the technology. “Followed right behind that we will be replacing system paging for fire and EMS, and behind that is the new voice radio system.”
Justus said prior to beginning the upgrades the county to make sure all of the current towers met the current construction standards.
“All of the towers went through structural analysis,” Justus said.
He said an engineer determines if any equipment that will be added in the upgrade will bring the tower close to the structural limit.
During the process, he said a couple of towers failed structural analysis. He said they reinforced one of the towers in Batavia and were able to lease space on another tower in Goshen to make sure the towers met the standards.
He said they are also working on a project to find a site in Northern Kentucky that will replace a New Richmond tower and improve communication across the river.
“It’s a big project,” Justus said. “We’ve been discussing it for perhaps five years.”
Humphrey said commissioners are working on a contract to subscribe to the Ohio MARCS system, he said the contract will go before the board for approval in the coming weeks.
He said that if it is approved, February 2015 would be the target date to start using the MARCS system.
“The build out will take time,” Humphrey said.
For more information about the MARCS system, visit http://das.ohio.gov/Divisions/InformationTechnology/MARCSServices.aspx.