Thorsby agrees to radio proposal

Published 4:26 pm Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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The Town of Thorsby was the latest municipality to sign a memorandum of understanding agreement to start the process of a public safety radio initiative in Chilton County.

The goal of the plan is to make sure that the various police, fire and emergency departments throughout the county can effectively communicate with each other.

According to 911 Director Dan Wright, who came before the Thorsby Town Council during its meeting on Sept. 16, the current system has proven to be unreliable.

He said there have been instances where law enforcement has been on the scene of a situation but have not had the cell service needed to communicate with each other.

AT&T push-to-talk phones are the most common method of communication being used at the moment by departments.

The cost proposal will allow for departments and stakeholders to add future radios if they choose without having to worry about further maintenance costs. The only costs would be for the equipment itself.

Wright informed the Council that after negotiations with Motorola, the project’s first payment would not be due until February 2021.

This will allow the municipalities time to prepare financially and have a plan heading into future budgets.

The main cost centers around getting the frequency towers up and running.

“We just recently made this switch in Shelby County, and it is the future,” Thorsby Fire Chief Josh Parker said.

According to Parker, TFD alone would need a minimum of 10 radios, which cost an average of $3,000 to $4,000 per radio.

It is estimated to take about three years to transition Thorsby Fire from the current analog system to the proposed digital system.

According to Wright, Thorsby’s signature was important because the project is up against a hard deadline to get the negotiated pricing agreement by the end of September.

However, the Town of Thorsby is in the midst of a two-year contract with AT&T and there are questions surrounding whether or not they will be able to find a sooner way out of the contract.

If not, it will help that Wright assured the Council the technology exists to patch the new and old systems, so they can work together in the mean time.

The Council’s decision to sign the agreement will not replace the current 911 fees the town pays.

The Thorsby Town Council joined the Chilton County Commission and the City of Clanton as parties that have signed the agreement.

The City of Jemison and Town of Maplesville are the last two signatures the 911 Board needs.

If all parties sign, the next step would be for the 911 Board to meet and sign a lease agreement.