Townships get new radio-dispatch system

By Ashley Luthern


A new joint radio-dispatch system for Boardman and Austintown should be up and running this week.

It’s been two years since the townships first discussed collaborating to update their equipment, to comply with a federal mandate that all public-safety land-mobile-radio systems be narrowbanded by Jan. 1.

“We should get cut over to the new system [today], and we will be operating fully on one console. Boardman will be getting its radios programmed this week,” said Frank Yacucci, Austintown’s dispatcher supervisor.

The townships shared the cost of a $1.5 million Motorola radio system that’s digital instead of analog. Austintown and Boardman formed a council of governments, which owns the radio system.

The radio system connects emergency dispatchers with portable and car radios used by police, fire and road employees.

The council met for the first time last week. Its four person board is Austintown Police Chief Bob Gavalier, Austintown Administrator Michael Dockry, Boardman Police Chief Jack Nichols and Boardman Administrator Jason Loree.

Gavalier was voted board chairman, Nichols as vice-chairman and Loree as secretary. The council agreed to meet at 2:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month beginning March 6.

Yacucci said the radio system was tested throughout Austintown, and locations that were “dead spots” under the old system now have clear reception. Nichols said the system provides better coverage through Boardman, too.

The project moved slower than originally predicted, partially because Motorola and other companies involved with the transition were busier than usual as everyone was trying to meet the federally mandated 2013 deadline, Nichols said.

The radio system has a one-year warranty, and the council is determining which maintenance agreement to purchase. The highest cost would be $40,000 for an agreement that includes Motorola monitoring the radios for problems, but several less-expensive options are available, officials said.

The council has in its rules that Boardman and Austintown will split maintenance costs, Gavalier said.

“Anyone who comes on the system will be asked to help us pay for maintenance and upgrades,” he said.

The radio system is designed for other entities to join easily. The Mill Creek MetroParks Police Department, for example, is interested in using the radio system, Nichols said.

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