Supervisors frustrated by another delay in towers project

NORWICH – Tempers flared Monday when members the Chenango County Board of Supervisors learned that a long-awaited E-911 radio transmission system would be yet another three months late.

The system was scheduled to go live this fall, but with antenna and radio installations remaining at four tower sites and final radio frequency testing expected to carry on through early December, officials are indicating it could be toward the end of the year now.

The $6 million project, in concept, has been underway for more than a decade. Tower installations began with the completion of the county’s new Public Safety Facility in 2007.

The updated emergency communications system replaces three towers constructed in the 1970s that served only 25 percent of the county with nine towers and 98 percent coverage. Frequencies went from four channels to 16. Eventually, all 21 fire departments will be required to purchase new UHF radios in order to be compatible. Thirteen of them have already.

“We’re making every effort we can to improve on this schedule,” said Chenango County Emergency Management Director and Fire Coordinator Matt Beckwith, who presented a project update at this month’s meeting of the county board.

Beckwith pointed to the end of December for a full sign off. “We’re very optimistic that we’ll meet the deadline,” he said.

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