(Sidney) — Fremont County officials continue to troubleshoot issues with the county’s new emergency radio system.

Tony Pawlisz, Fremont County project manager for Motorola Solutions, outlined some of the recent problems with hand-held radio coverage and some possible solutions during this week’s county board of supervisors meeting. Pawlisz address problems regarding dead spots in parts of the county with hand-held radios.

“It’s been brought to our attention by the sheriff that Thurman, and the part of the Bluff Road there, there’s no area of coverage by some of the portable radios,” said Pawlisz.”The area around Percival has mobile coverage, but not portable coverage, and Thurman doesn’t have any portable or mobile coverage almost at all.”

Pawlisz also proposed some options for addressing the problems, such as the installation of digital vehicle repeater systems–or DVRS–to address coverage issues around Thurman and the bluff areas.

“In order to provide the portable coverage for Thurman and the bluff area, a combination of two additional fixed repeaters are being proposed for Fremont County,” he said. “Using current available assets are not conducive to being used in that area right now–which is a dead area, because of the coverage maps, and what we’ve put in thus far. We recommend putting in the DVRS solution–the digital vehicle repeater–that rely on current portable coverage.”

He says DVRS installation take approximately three-to-four months. Paulisz says Percival’s coverage could be improved by installing equipment on top of a local grain elevator.

Another option is to install repeaters in the county’s individual law enforcement, fire and other first responder vehicles. Pawlisz says that would cost approximately $10,000 per vehicle. One other option is to construct a new communications tower at a cost of up to $1.5 million. While saying a power would greatly improve coverage, he adds procuring land for the new tower would take at least a year. And, officials question whether Fremont County has the bonding capability.

Supervisors Chair Dustin Sheldon says he wants improvements made to ensure the safety of first responders, and provide services that citizens expect and need.

“My main objective of to make sure the life and safety of our first responders, whether it be fire, rescue, police–the people that are out there every day,” said Sheldon. “It also goes back to the people that they’re trying to serve. That’s my number-one goal. We can’t expect these people to go out there and risk their lives, and just be an island, when we’ve paid this much for whatever we’ve got. We don’t have what we need.”

Board members also asked whether any existing towers are available for radio improvements. After considerable discussion, no action was taken on Motorola’s proposals. More discussion is expected at future board meetings.

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