County board OKs next phase of radio upgrade

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mower County is one step closer to upgrading its radio system.

The Mower County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve an agreement between the county, the Southeast Minnesota Regional Radio Board, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation regarding its upcoming switch to an 800 megahertz radio system.

“We were overdue,” said board chairman Jerry Reinartz.

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In addition, the board approved a plan to participate in the state’s Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response radio system. The system acts as the backbone for public communication systems in the region, according to Andrew Terry, a consultant with Short Elliot Hendrickson, Inc., which has advised the county on these measures.

County officials will install radio consoles this summer to switch to the 800 megahertz channel. The digital-based system will still allow county officials to track 911 phone calls, but Freeborn County’s computer system will host the computer which logs all that information.

Minnesota has put up several radio towers for the system, but parts of Austin are in a dead zone for radio traffic. Terry told the board it could put up a repeater on the town’s water tower to improve local coverage. While the Austin Police Department has yet to transfer to the new system, county officials are ready to do so this summer, with small town agencies continuing to use the old analog radio systems connected to ARMER for the next few years until they can upgrade.


Roosevelt Bridge to get upgrade

The board also approved a $2.48 million bid to do the second and hopefully final reconstruction project on the Roosevelt Bridge in Austin this summer.

County Engineer Mike Hanson said Global Specialty, out of Eagan, secured the bid and was the same company to do the Roosevelt Bridge work last summer for about $1 million.

Hansen said Global Specialty will do the “superstructure” work on the bridge, i.e. the top of the bridge, the railings, the deck and other, outer work. The project is expected to wrap up this fall, and Hanson said the bridge will look close to its original form when it was built in 1934.