Lincoln communications system needs repair, firefighters say

August 20, 2004|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - City and county firefighters are having difficulty responding to calls, the Emergency 911 board told Lincoln County Fiscal Court members Thursday night, because sometimes they never receive the notification to go.

A decrepit repeater tower, used to strengthen and broadcast emergency radio signals for firefighters throughout the county, has been scrambling the tones used to page individual firefighters and hence leaving some wondering where the fire is.

"My department was missing calls ... and I want to know why it doesn't work," said Stanford Fire Chief Ken McDaniel, who called the tower station a mess of decayed and broken wires jury-rigged in a cheap and inefficient manor.

"I would have missed a call the other day if somebody hadn't called me," said Roger Brown, district fire chief and chairman of the county fire board.


According to Brown, patchy reception has marred the entire bottom third of the county as well as the east end around McKinney and Moreland.

Radio Communications Systems of Lexington has been hired to look at the repeater and provide quotes for a new system.

Magistrates expressed their dismay with the situation. "I don't think this thing was ever up to date. I think we got sold a bill of goods," Judge-Executive Buckwheat Gilbert said, but wondered where money for the new system would come from, even after reading the first draft of the board's budget.

After closely examining the document, Gilbert and magistrates questioned several expenditures on the list, including the 8 percent raise for the 911 coordinator. County employees received a cost-of-living raise of 1.88 percent this year, said Gilbert. Other line items seemed to be higher than needed, leading to a $20,000 requested increase in the budget.

"I don't think they need to pad up one line item to transfer to another," said Gilbert. The fire board will now have to submit a revised budget to the magistrates, for another close scrutiny.

"But it's our job to oversee that budget," Gilbert said. "When you're on a thin budget to begin with, you don't give raises."

"We're not going to let the 911 go down, but we're going to look at every penny, it needs to be there," Magistrate Earlin Cress said.

Magistrates voted against raising the county's income Thursday night as well, approving the current real property tax rate at 9.4 percent or $.094 per $100 of property valuation. The county will have to advertise a public hearing regarding the new rate in the local paper for two weeks before the rate can go into effect.

Magistrate Bill Dyehouse said he voted to keep the rate the same because the county, financially, is doing well. "We've got good income. We're not hurting for money," said Dyehouse. "We've made good, sound decisions in the last couple years, and it's allowed us to be able to operate and have things in the county we've never had before."

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