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Hall plans to extend radio system

Jackson, Barrow counties would get service

POSTED: December 18, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Hall County made the first steps toward extending its massive 800 MHz radio system after applying for a grant from Homeland Security to build three new sites.

Central Communications Director Marty Nix proposed the project to the Hall County Board of Commissioners at its Monday meeting. The board likely will vote to approve the more than $7 million Georgia Homeland Security Grant Program project at its meeting tonight.

"Our goal is to have surrounding counties all on one radio system so there’s interoperability," Nix said.

Jackson and Barrow counties were interested in joining the system, and their proximity to Hall will allow them to connect easily and allow for future expansion.

"The grant would require three sites to be built total — two in Jackson County and one in Barrow County," Nix said. "It would pay for the infrastructure to build towers and all the equipment associated with an 800 MHz system."

The radio system has a high capacity, and county officials hope others will join it not only to make communication easier but to help lower the costs of maintenance.

"Each county would share in the maintenance cost. Instead of one county having to bear the burden of the maintenance, all of the counties would be sharing in the cost, and it saves each county money," Nix said.

Because Hall is the center of the system, grant money would be funneled through it to make sure the new sites and equipment are up to the system standard.

Voters approved the $16 million 800 MHz digital system in a 2004 sales tax referendum. Hall County started using the technology in March 2007.

Many other counties still use the older, less reliable VHS radio technology, so switching to an 800 MHz system would let them communicate more easily.

"It’s a win-win situation for those new users outside the county and those inside the county," said Hall County Commissioner Billy Powell. "The potential is almost limitless at this point."

Powell said he was happy to see others were interested in joining the system.

"For some time, Marty Nix has been looking at ways to allow other neighboring counties or municipalities or organizations to partner with us and realize the benefit of that big investment we made a few years ago," Powell said.



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