Consultant hired for communications upgrade

New emergency radio system is in 2020 plans
By: 

Warren Bluhm, wbluhm@newmedia-wi.com

Oconto County emergency services are on the verge of getting a major upgrade of their communications system, and toward that end the County Board has hired PSC Alliance consulting firm of Bloomington, Minnesota, to help evaluate the system and propose upgrades.

The board voted 30-0 on May 23 to hire PSC Alliance for $44,500, which Emergency Services Director Tim Magnin and Sheriff Todd Skarban said was the best of five bids for the work.

Administrative Coordinator Kevin Hamann noted that the county’s long-term capital plan includes $3.1 million next year to upgrade the radio system, which was last upgraded in 2006.

“When we started this process, I said we need some expert advice to come and tell us exactly what we need, because before we recommend to the County Board spending $3.1 million, we better have our ducks in a row,” Hamann said.

The county followed a similar process in 2005, he added.

“That system was only supposed to last us 10 years,” Hamann said. “Well, we got 13-14 years out of it, so it’s now time to upgrade the radio system.”

Magnin said five different faults or failures have occurred in the radio system so far this year.

“The types of calls, the length of calls, the amount of calls that our dispatch is working on now, it’s just been growing every year,” he said.

Supervisor David Parmentier, a member of the Law Enforcement/Judiciary Committee, said PSC Alliance’s bid came in lower than the panel was expecting.

“This will cover some of the outlying areas where volunteer organizations and the sheriff’s department have drops in our system, there’s dead areas that we need to correct,” Parmentier said. “This will address that, also.”