Maplesville prepares for radio conversion

Published 4:10 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Maplesville’s fire and police departments will have to convert their public safety radios to narrowband soon in compliance with a federal mandate.

The town’s changeover will start in mid-June and includes the departments’ handheld radios, vehicle radios and repeaters.

“FCC says we’ve got to do it,” Mayor Aubrey Latham said. “It’s going to be a whole lot cheaper to reprogram what we’ve got.”

The other option would be to buy new radios that are already narrowbanded.

The Federal Communications Commission’s mandate applies to all public safety and business industrial land mobile radio systems, but it may affect local agencies, including police and fire, differently because they will have to convert their own devices, which could put more strain on smaller budgets. Everything must be converted by Jan. 1, 2013.

According to Maplesville Town Clerk Sheila Haigler, this could cost the town as much as $6,000.

“If you don’t get it changed over, they won’t work,” Haigler said.

For the fire department, the council also decided to have an incident reporting system installed on the mayor’s computer, following glitches on the department’s computer that caused a backlog of unfiled reports.

Christine Epperson, assistant EMS chief, asked the council for permission to buy more first-aid supplies for the fire truck.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve done an EMS order for the rescue truck,” Epperson said. “We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty.”

For the police department, Chief Todd Ingram asked to declare surplus a light bar and cage for a Crown Victoria and donate both to another police department.

“We’ve tried to sell them, but nobody’s bought them,” Ingram said.

For the street department, the council approved the hiring of one person for temporary summer help.

Kenny Barrett, head of the street department, asked that the town enforce its ordinance requiring residents to move inoperable vehicles from public roads.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” Barrett said. “We have the ordinance there for a reason. This is to protect all of us. This is not to make anybody mad.”

Barrett said the department is in the process of filling potholes on roads, which numerous residents have voiced concerns about recently.

The town is waiting on approval for Wiregrass Construction to provide the special asphalt needed to fill potholes.

“I’m hoping that by the end of summer, if not before, you’re going to see great improvement in our streets,” Latham said.

In new business, the council voted not to participate in Gov. Robert Bentley’s 2012 Severe Weather Preparedness Tax Holiday scheduled for July 6-8.

Additionally, Haigler said that besides a handful of extra expenses from the January tornado, the town has adhered to its budget.

“I think we’re pretty well on track,” Haigler said.

The next council meeting will be Tuesday, June 19 at 6 p.m.