Commissioners prepare for communication woes
By LPR Staff
Several years ago, Caldwell County entered an agreement with the City of Lockhart to share communications. Now, because of advances in technology and the Lockhart City Council’s recent decision to pursue a cooperative grant with the City of Austin, the County’s communication systems may be in jeopardy.
County Judge H
.T. Wright brought communications back to the forefront during the Commissioners’ Court meeting on Monday, hoping to brainstorm for a solution to the County’s mounting concerns.
“If the City of Lockhart gets the grant and moves forward with the digital radios, all of our equipment will be basically out of date,” Wright said. “If they go digital, they will have a T1 line connecting with Austin, and we will have to go back to our conventional system with three repeaters.”
Because of Federal Communication Commission (FCC) mandates, all emergency services will eventually upgrade to the digital technology. However, Caldwell County, along with the Cities of Luling and Martindale, have balked at the idea because of the costs involved with it.
“Either way we go, it’s going to cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Wright said. “If Lockhart gets the grant, we’ll have to get another frequency and acquire the controllers and another repeater and console.”
According to Commissioner Tom Bonn, while that solution would be an intermediate step, it would still not solve the underlying problem.
“All of the Homeland Security grant money we’ve received has gone toward the purchase of the digital equipment,” he said. “The City of Austin can only support so many consoles, so the consoles may be obsolete.”
The Court could neither offer nor determine any solutions to the possible problem on Monday, but will continue to examine the best and most cost-effective solutions to maintain communication.
In other news, the Court heard an update from Unit Road Administrator Dwight Jeffrey regarding maintenance and upgrades to county roads after the recent torrential rains.
“We’re pulling up the barricades we’ve been putting out and trying to get back to grading and paving the roads,” Jeffrey said. “But with everything being so wet, it’s put us behind schedule on some of the paving we’ve been doing.”
Wright questioned Jeffrey regarding a dust-control program the County has been examining. Jeffrey noted most of his equipment and crews have been tied up with other priorities.
“If the Court tells me to quit paving and work on dust control, that’s what I’ll do,” Jeffrey said. “But right now, the equipment and crews that I would use to do the dust control, which is a good thing and something we’ve needed for a long time, are working on the paving.”
In brief news:
Because of continued wet weather, the Court opted to continue without an outdoor burning ban.
They considered contracting a risk-management and insurance broker to examine reducing insurance costs.
The County paid bills in the amount of $107,365.45.