Caton gives P25 system update

Published 12:04 pm Thursday, March 23, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

Trae Caton of Chilton County E-911 gave an update to the 911 Board about the P25 countywide emergency communications system at its meeting on March 22.

Caton said that all of the equipment has been ordered to complete the entire $5 million project, aside from the generators for the tower that will be purchased separately. The last piece ordered was the Cedar Grove Community tower that the Chilton County Commission approved at its March 14 meeting. The commission also approved two battery backups for the Maplesville and Enterprise towers that will soften the load every time the power flickers, and it adds another level of protection to the multi-million-dollar equipment.

Caton said the original quote for the tower came back just under $600,000, almost double the anticipated cost of $350,000. However, Caton was able to look through the quote and find multiple things that Chilton County 911 could do themselves to alleviate some of the costs, such as the county road department handling the building the road and grading of the site and Chilton Propane donating the tanks needed to run the tower.

The completion date to have the entire project done and everything up and running is set for December. However, Caton said he has been negotiating with American Tower company who owns the Collins Chapel site tower, and they gave him a quote in early 2022 of $64,000 per year to lease the tower.

Caton said he told them that “we are not in this to make any revenue, and this is a public safety radio system for a county.” American Tower got the price down to $39,000 per year with a 4% increase for 14 years. After 10 years, the cost would be the same, if the 911 Board leased the tower from American Tower or just bought their own tower for the site, which could be leased to outside organizations as well to help offset some of the costs of the project down the road.

If the board does decide to build its own tower, then the December completion date could be pushed back a bit, but Caton said everything that they can get done before then should be complete.

The ambulance contract renewal was tabled until the board can look over it closer and decide on how to proceed further. The contract expired on Jan. 30. A work session to discuss the contract was called for April 6 at 7 a.m., and a special called meeting was set for April 12 at 4:30 p.m. to finalize the details of the contract.

Also, during the meeting, Jemison Fire Department Chief John Dennis was approved unanimously by the board to have access to PSAware to see only Jemison area fire and police calls.