Starke County Commissioners Receive Narrowbanding Update

IT Director Joe Short

Starke County is still suffering from the storms that wreaked havoc in June and July, as the Sheriff’s Department’s radio tower is still not quite up-to-snuff because of damage caused during the storms. IT Director Joe Short gave the commissioners an update last night on the progress of not only the repairs on the tower, but also the county’s progress on complying with new narrowband requirements from the FCC.

Short explained that he has issued a notice to the EMS Department to remove any radios that are not up to narrowband requirements, and the department has since removed two radios from use that had previously been overlooked. Short said the departments will replace the radios at their own expense.

He also explained that the Sheriff’s Posse has found seven radios that can be modified to meet narrowband requirements, saving money that would have otherwise been used to purchase new radios. The Sheriff’s Department will cover the cost of upgrading the radios to narrowband standards, and the department will also cover the cost of purchasing a radio for the dispatch center.

The VHS System, which Short explained is used to dispatch fire and other services, is still in pretty bad shape from the storm, creating spots where the signal cannot reach. Short said he had been approached by an official in Koontz Lake who expressed interest in purchasing a repeater-like device that would enhance the signal in that area at a cost of up to $6000, the cost for which the Koontz Lake official would cover.

Short said the county is in a “holding pattern,” for repairing the radio tower because the county must first acquire the new jail property before the antenna can be built. As a result, until that property is purchased, the county will have to make do with a crippled antenna that is unable to broadcast as far as it had previously been able to.