Grant to aid city, county emergency communications

Published 6:51 pm Monday, April 19, 2010

Brookhaven and Lincoln County could soon be on the cutting edgeof communications technology after receiving a public safetyinteroperability grant, Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey saidat Friday night’s rescheduled regular board of aldermenmeeting.

The $200,000 grant would only require a $12,000 match from theBrookhaven Police Department and a $2,100 match from the BrookhavenFire Department, Galey said. Those funds would go to upgrade bothBPD’s and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department’s dispatchcenters to give them the capability to communicate with emergencyofficials all over the state.

The grant can be accepted as long as the city and county arewilling to cooperate on an interlocal agreement, Galey said. CityAttorney Joe Fernald said he had looked over it to make sure it wascorrect.

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Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron asked how the communicationssystem falls in with the money spent by the city last year to putgenerators at each emergency station.

“The generators keep the stations going, but if the radio goes out,we’re in trouble,” Galey said. “This gives usinteroperability.”

Galey pointed out that the radio system is based on satellitecapability, meaning that emergency officials from all corners ofthe state can communicate in case of an emergency. If disasterstrikes, Galey said, the radios can be used by officials of thepolice, fire, and sheriff’s departments as well as emergencymedical services and civil defense.

“Communications are key to any city, but in disaster it becomesmuch more important,” said Mayor Les Bumgarner.

Aldermen approved the grant plans, which are expected to bepresented Monday to Lincoln County supervisors for theirapproval.

In other business, the board also got a look at a moratorium theyvoted to put into effect at the April 6 board meeting preventingmodular buildings inside the city limits.

The move, to be in effect for 180 days, was done to allow officialsto draft a comprehensive zoning plan setting out areas where theyare allowed. Fernald said the moratorium can be renewed at the endof that time if the board can show progress toward an ordinancethat deals with the problem.

The moratorium states, however, that anyone who has a grievancewith it or with the city building inspector’s decision andrecommendation does have the option of appealing the decision tothe board.

Bumgarner also told the board that the city has received an EnergyEfficiency and Conservation Block Grant that will allow all thetraffic lights in Brookhaven to be changed out for LED lights,which will save money on energy costs.

Aldermen regularly meet on the first and third Tuesday of themonth, but the April 20 meeting was rescheduled for Friday as mostof the board will be out of town for a conference.