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County radio work is moving ahead
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County Communications Director Dough Hubbard has reported that the county’s communications improvements should be done next month.
“The narrow-banding project is coming together with the replacement of radio repeaters and antennas on all of the Barton County sites. 
“The project also includes the inclusion of three additional antenna sites — being in Claflin, Ellinwood and Galatia,” Hubbard reported. 
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, it was reported earlier.
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 work hasn’t been accomplished overnight, however, Hubbard explained.
“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. 
“A subcommittee studied the current system, including coverage in all areas of the county, to get an idea of any short comings, along with age and compatibility of existing equipment with the new FCC guidelines. It was determined that all but two of the existing repeaters would need to be replaced and later decided that antennas and cables also should be replaced. 
“A grant application was made and later awarded to Barton County that will pay for nearly three quarters of the overall cost.”
He added the work should be done in May.