New EMA/911 tower will link entire county

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Reaching high into the sky, the Lawrence County Emergency Services Agency's new communications tower will truly allow the agency to reach out across Lawrence County and beyond.

F & L Electronics of Huntington, W.Va., attached five antenna to the communications tower on top of the building that houses the EMA/911 offices Tuesday. The tower was installed a few weeks ago and the agency is now closer to getting the new system online.

The communications system includes the tower and a control grid that will allow any governmental, emergency services, utility and other public agencies to communicate with each other without having special radio equipment.

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Emergency Services Director Don Mootz called the system impressive and a big benefit during homeland security incidents and weather-related emergencies, such as blizzards or floods.

"We think it will be invaluable," Mootz said. "If we had this in place during the ice storm, we could have communicated with the utility companies and checked on their progress, who was out of power and if they needed help. We had rescue crews that were trapped and we could have linked with them."

The actual coverage area is still being determined but will at least span all of Lawrence County, most likely much farther, Mootz said.

Installing the antenna is only the first step, he said. The system should be working within the next 60 days. The agencies plan a formal dedication and demonstration later this summer.

The Lawrence County Homeland Security committee paid for the project with $39,500 in federal anti-terrorism funds.