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County projects heat up
Radio narrow band project nears completion
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Improvements in emergency communications in Barton County are continuing and the project is nearing completion, according to information from County Communications Director Doug Hubbard.
Hubbard recently reported that the county project to upgrade its towers and create a narrow band system “continues with most of the individual departments having radio equipment narrow banded and new channel line-ups reprogrammed. 
“Seven of the 13 new repeaters have been installed, narrow banded and placed in service to date. 
“Communications Department will be last to be reprogrammed and re-configured at the consoles. 
“Some of the work has already been done inside the 911 Center, but will be finished later in May,” Hubbard reported.
Hubbard explained earlier that the county has to invest in a narrow band communications system as the nation’s radio bands area carrying more and more information. This is being mandated by the Federal Communications Commission.
At the beginning of this year, County Administrator Richard Boeckman told the Barton County Commission that the county started the year by receiving a grant for more than $160,000 to help pay for the communications program. “It’s nice to start the new year with good news,” Boeckman commented.
Hubbard reported that the continued work is going to make a big difference for emergency communications. “This will improve coverage and the overall system.  Day-to-day operations will be enhanced with updated protocols for incident management due to the addition of new frequencies on the new tower locations. The project also will bring communications into compliance with FCC requirements for narrow banding of frequencies by December, 2012. Generators or battery back up power sources will be placed on any site that does not already have auxiliary power.”
“The project for the upgrades began nearly two years ago with the 911 Advisory Board consisting of members from all police, fire and EMS departments in Barton County. 
The return to warm weather has also recently meant the kick-off of summer projects, Road and Bridge Department Director Dale Phillips reported.
His department is already busy making transportation improvements in the county.
Recent projects include:
• Asphalt work continues south and east of Ellinwood.
• Low water crossings were repaired in northeast Barton County.
• Culvert repair work was performed as need.
• Sand pumping and asphalt production continue.
• New 911 Locator address signs were installed in Heizer, marking city streets as requested.
• Staff works at county memorial parks as required.