Quorum court OKs purchase
Sept. 19, 2002
The Sebastian County Quorum Court gave Sheriff Frank Atkinson the go-ahead Tuesday to use his discretion in purchasing new communications radios for his department.
Justices directed Atkinson to use nearly $30,000 from the sheriff’s communications and equipment fund to buy radios from PEI Communications of Fort Smith.
The sheriff’s department initially had asked the quorum court to consider the purchase of Enhanced Digital Access Communications radios. The department requested conventional radios Tuesday after learning that the city of Fort Smith had scrapped a plan to purchase EDAC equipment.
Agencies could not communicate with each other if emergency personnel used different radio equipment, Atkinson said. He added conventional radios are much less expensive than EDAC radios.
Tom Minton, assistant county administrator, said a conventional radio would cost about $800. EDAC radios are about $1,800 apiece.
“We can get a lot more for our money,” Atkinson said, adding that a conventional radio system is “more adaptable” for communication.
Justices rejected the department’s initial request to allocate money from the county’s general fund for the radio purchase. Though state law gives the sheriff sole authority over his communications and equipment fund, the quorum court asked Atkinson to use that fund to pay the radio cost.
Sheriff’s Department Capt. Mike Conger, in a letter to quorum court members, said several radios at the county’s adult detention center were “not operational and beyond repair.” Conger said a lack of working radios causes a security risk at the center.
Also Tuesday, justices learned a sophisticated mapping system for county emergency personnel should be complete by next year.
Rusty Myers of the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District reported justices that his office is nearly finished with a multiyear project to locate all structures in the county (outside Fort Smith) with Global Positioning System coordinates.
The GPS data for structures is being applied to a computerized map, The system allows emergency dispatchers to pinpoint the exact location of a call on a computer screen instead of a paper map, Myers said.
The method decreases emergency-response time, he added. The system can be enhanced to include locations of fire hydrants, water lines and even emergency vehicles, Myers said.
He called the system the “most accurate, comprehensive and advanced county-wide 911 mapping and addressing system in the state.”
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(Copyright 2002, Fort Smith (Ark.) Times Record. All rights reserved. Republished with permission from the publisher.)