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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

County to dip into remaining ARPA funds to buy digital radios

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

MOUND CITY – On Monday, July 17, the Linn County Commissioners decided that improving fire fighters communication was important enough to spend $161,000 of the remaining $800,000 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds on setting up towers and radios for digital service.

The main set of radios will be handhelds and new vehicle radios for fire department personnel. Other radios will be handhelds for the sheriff’s office.

Since learning earlier in the year that the landfill has cells that will need to be closed soon and changes need to be made at the transfer station at Prescott, the commissioners have been holding onto the ARPA funds.

Information Technology Director Chris Martin first broached the subject of using ARPA funds in February. He had told the commissioners that if those funds were not used, the money would have to be budgeted and it would probably take three years to complete the towers and get the radios.

In March, Martin explained that the converting to a digital radio system would increase the effectiveness of the handheld radios used by the firefighters. He said that much of the infrastructure was already in place with existing towers but the radios in the trucks and the handhelds would have to be replaced.

On July 17, he reported that once the purchase is made, it would be two to three months before the tower equipment was received. It will take up to six months before the handhelds and radio equipment for the vehicles would be received.

Equipment for the towers at Linn Valley, Parker, Blue Mound, Campbell Hill and Mound City will cost about $66,300. This also includes hiring the tower climbing company and adding additional equipment on the tower alongside Kansas Highway 7 north of Mound City..

The fire department mobile radios for the vehicles will cost nearly $30,600, and the fire department handhelds will cost nearly $48,100. The handhelds for the sheriff’s office will be more than $15,400.

Martin explained that there will be an additional cost at three of the five towers that will need to be put into the county’s budget. The Campbell Hill tower will cost $100 per month for the space and the electrical.

At Blue Mound, the device will be placed on the abandoned television tower and there is an electric meter nearby. At Parker, the tower is also an abandoned television tower which also has an electrical outlet nearby.

Martin estimated that the fees for each tower will be about $100 per month. The commissioners opted to pay these fees out of the county budget rather than use ARPA money for the next several years.

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