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What happened: Problems with Columbus County's two-year-old emergency Motorola radio system will cost more than $450,000 to correct, Columbus County Commissioners were told Monday.
Why it matters: Commissioners invested $1.2million in the Kenwood NexEdge system purchased from Fleet Connect, a Sanford based Kenwood dealer, in a project completed in 2012.
Some of the county's fire and rescue departments have complained of coverage problems from the outset, while others and the Columbus County Sheriff's Office have generally reported positive experiences.
Ken Fisher, a Kenwood senior systems engineer from Atlanta, told commissioners that the corporation was unaware of the project until six months ago, when Acme Delco Riegelwood Fire/Rescue Chief Steve Camlin complained about the system.
Since then Kenwood has conducted a detailed analysis of the system, Fisher said, and found numerous problem antennas at six transmitter sites, microwave radio links connecting those sites and programming of individual radios including hand-held devices, radios mounted in vehicles and base stations.
Kenwood's proposed contract for addressing most of the issues is for $421,000, which includes about $44,000 for enough spare parts to rebuild one tower site in the event of a disaster. Another $35,000 contract to Kenwood dealer Communications Specialists in Wilmington would cover reprogramming hundreds of radios in use throughout the county.
Emergency Services Director Kay Worley, unable to attend the meeting because of illness, asked that commissioners delay action on the contract while some minor details were revised, Assistant Director David Ransom told commissioners.
Commissioners sought assurances that the improvements would solve the county's radio problems. Fisher said they would.
What they said: “Trust is an issue right now,” Commissioner Amon McKenzie said.
“We are also upset,” Fisher said. “This is not how we as a corporation do things. This system is capable of screaming for you. It is not.”