800 Mhz switch set for June 1Goodhue County sheriff's officials plan on a countywide migration to the new 800 Mhz radio network by June 1.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
Goodhue County sheriff's officials plan on a countywide migration to the new 800 Mhz radio network by June 1.
That date has been pushed back several times, most recently because of delays with a third-party vendor, Chief Deputy Scott McNurlin said.
McNurlin said issues have been resolved, however, and county and state officials will work over the next few weeks to put the finishing touches on 800 Mhz towers in Frontenac and Vasa.
"That Frontenac tower is going to be crucial to coverage in Red Wing and Lake City," McNurlin said.
McNurlin said the biggest hurdle with bringing the Frontenac tower online will be receiving and setting up the microwave link, a dish-like device on each tower that connects them together.
"It connects all the sites together so we have the 95 percent coverage we're looking for," McNurlin said.
Sheriff's officials have been working for years on implementing an 800 Mhz radio system to replace the county's antiquated VHF platform, which is at risk for failure.
The new system will give fire, police and ambulance crews countywide a more reliable public safety network to provide better emergency services. Public works crews can also tap into the system.
At one time, the project was slated to cost local taxpayers as much as $7 million. McNurlin and other officials have hunted down grants and other monies to drop that number between $1.1 million and $1.4 million.
Goodhue County public safety officials actually began using the new multi-million dollar 800 Mhz radio platform late last year.
Three of the seven necessary radio towers are online, allowing law enforcement officers sporadic coverage countywide, McNurlin said.
The Frontenac and Vasa towers need to be developed, a process that will happen quickly. Those towers and one in Red Wing still need the microwave link.
Once the towers are complete, law enforcement, ambulance and fire officials countywide will receive four hours of training - likely in May - where they will learn how the difference between the new and old system and how to use the equipment.
"They learn how they need to maneuver around their equipment to use all resources available," McNurlin said. "It's really about learning the scope of the system."
The state will build one more tower in the Kenyon area before the 800 Mhz project is complete. That tower will help officials get better coverage inside buildings and is scheduled for completion this fall.
"It's not an imperative tower but it's going to be like icing on the cake, so to speak," McNurlin said.
"People have been waiting so long for this transition," he added. "The system we have now is so old and unreliable. We know the distinct clarity, the kind of coverage this new system is going to provide."