| News

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

New Armstrong 911 center ready to begin operations

Ruediger | Leader Times
The new Armstrong County 911 building near the Armsdale Center in Rayburn Township is coming along on schedule. Louis B.

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

Armstrong Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Mitch Fryer
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.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Armstrong

  1. South Buffalo airport gets Armstrong County funding for study
  2. Explosive second day at Camp Cadet in Manor
  3. Kittanning 5K raising money for Habitat for Humanity
  4. Rural Valley judge hanging up robes after 34 years on the bench
  5. Natural gas fueling station opens in East Franklin
  6. Manor family parting with WWII memorabilia at estate sale
  7. Ownerless emu finds ‘buddy’ at new Greensburg home
  8. Plea withdrawals made harder by Pennsylvania Supreme Court
  9. Disabled volunteer relates others at Kittanning health center
  10. 5K in Bethel to benefit group that offers horse rides to disabled children
  11. police briefs