New Armstrong 911 center ready to begin operations
By Mitch Fryer
Published: Friday, June 29, 2012, 8:28 p.m.
The Armstrong County Department of Public Safety's new Emergency Operations and 911 Center building and 14 radio towers will soon be operational.
The 5,200 square-foot building at the county's Armsdale property along Route 85 in Rayburn is built and awaiting the installation of radio equipment, along with broadband network and fiber optics, before a move can be made there from the courthouse annex building in Kittanning. In addition, 12 of 14 rural radio towers around the county are up and ready to go.
Officials expect the entire communications system to be fully ready to use by the end of the year. That's when they will move into the new facility.
The facility will give the county a more secure place to plan its response to disasters and handle day-to-day dispatching of fire, police and emergency medical services.
"We will have a dedicated communications and disaster preparedness and planning facility," said Randy Brozenick, county emergency management director. "The improvement gives us a more hardened facility -- meaning it can withstand flooding, tornados or other things. Everything is at a more secure location that's a better suited area, away by itself where it wouldn't be as likely affected. There's backup power. It's everything we don't have now."
The total project, which is in three parts -- radio equipment, broadband and the building -- cost $21 million. The building project alone cost about $3 million, some of which was funded by a $1 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The county issued a bond for the remainder of the costs.
In addition to housing the EOC, 911 and administrative offices, the building will be home to a new radio system connected to other counties.
The county also will transition to a new megahertz system -- high-frequency 800 megahertz channels and fiber optics.
The new multi-county public safety radio system and broadband network will better support local first responders and enhance communications, officials said.
"The responders are going to have a lot better coverage. They'll all be able to communicate to each other," said Brozenick. "It's going to enhance everything going on. It's better protection all around for the public."
The 14 radio towers to support the new system are going up on schedule, according to Ron Baustert, county 911 coordinator .
Nine sites around the county where there is an existing tower have been modified to meet the system's standards. Three of five newly-constructed towers, in the areas of Frogtown and Shady Plain are finished and on Thursday work was completed at an isolated site along Oak Road near Snyderville in Wayne Township.
Towers in the state gamelands near New Bethlehem and one near Widnoon are yet to be built.
County officials negotiated agreements with private landowners at all of the tower sites.
"This is going to provide countywide communications for all fire, police and EMS people," said Baustert. "This is state-of-the-art technology."
Baustert said the towers will not improve cellular phone service in rural areas where there is little or no coverage at this time, although commercial carriers could negotiate with the property owners. If that happens, the owners would need to renegotiate their contracts with the county, Baustert said.
"At this point the towers are just for public safety," he said.
County officials say the project is on schedule to meet a Federal Communications Commission mandate to upgrade systems to operate in narrow band mode by February.
"It's what we've been shooting for for four years," Baustert said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kittanning youths OK after Route 422 crash
- Riverhawks take long view of new school site
- Neighbors say bright, flashing sign in West Kittanning interferes with sleep
- Fish frying for Lent begins in Armstrong
- Kittanning bridge dropping to 1 lane for 7 months
- Ford City sets public meeting to discuss water supply