The Greene County Board of Supervisors last Tuesday learned the price tag of the proposed public safety radio upgrade project with Motorola Solutions: $5.9 million if the contract is signed by Dec. 20. The board will vote on the project at its Dec. 10 regular meeting.
“We have almost $2.5 million worth of incentives,” said Jeremy Thomas, account manager with Motorola. “We know this is a very, very important project for the county, but also an incredibly important project for Motorola … so we’ve got nearly a half-million dollars in incentives for the contract (if signed by Dec. 20). We think that is a win-win for both the county and Motorola.”
The county started the process to upgrade the public safety radio system in late 2017 with the hiring of Black & Veatch to complete a needs assessment, which it completed in March 2018. Thomas said with more than 2,500 individual requirements for the project, which is a joint endeavor with Madison County, the proposal is nearly 1,300 pages. The design provides for 95% coverage throughout the county, including into Shenandoah National Park in Greene County because of the entrance on U.S. Route 33 in Greene.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize Ms. (Melissa) Meador’s efforts, bringing us to this point, and she has a real incredible passion for public safety,” Thomas said. “She’s really challenged our engineers, putting out over 100 iterations of coverage designs to make sure that we had the coverage that your first responders need in the specific areas that they really most needed.”
Meador is the Greene County Emergency Services director.
Thomas said the design is based on the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials standard called product 25 and will contain five tower sites.
“It helps us with the interoperability with our neighbors; we’re all using the same common language so we can interact and operate and have mutual aid,” he said. “It’s practically a requirement now to apply for any type of grants.”
Even though the system is designed as a regional system with Madison County, the hub or the brain will be located in Greene County.
“So, Greene and Madison will share the cost of the (master site system) and there’s also coverage sharing, as well,” he said. “So, we benefit from some spillover coverage, if you will, from Madison County’s tower sites and they benefit from Greene County’s tower sites, as well. So, it’s a really great marriage, if you will.”
Thomas said one of the most important features, in his opinion, is there is no single point of failure.
“If a channel goes down or you have any issue in the system, if you have a component failure, there’s a backup. We have redundancy. We have backup on backup on backup,” Thomas said. “So, we know that this is a mission critical public safety communications (system).”
The next phase, if approved by the supervisors, is procurement and implementation of the system.
Monroe Supervisor David Cox asked what financing Motorola provides, including payment deferral options.
Thomas said there are many options available to the county for financing.
“For our next meeting, I assume that the financial plan will be included,” said board Chair Bill Martin, Stanardsville.
Meador told the board the financial plan she would recommend will be included in the Dec. 10 meeting packet, as well as an amount for a contingency fund.
“I’m all for it; it’s been seven (or) eight years and we are finally here and it’s coming in a whole lot cheaper than what we originally thought,” said Cox, liaison to the emergency services board. “We were looking at $14-15 million originally. Jeremy, thank you.”