County dials in on communication system upgrade

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Denton County commissioners took another stride Tuesday toward replacing the county’s weathered communications system.
Commissioners approved a committee recommendation of the ranking of two providers for the P25 Radio System through the Houston/Galveston Area Council of Governments Cooperative Purchasing Program. Now, the committee can negotiate with the leading firm, Motorola Solutions, to complete the process and acquire the equipment for the county.
“It was a good day for the Denton County taxpayer,” said Commissioner Andy Eads. “The county’s purchasing staff and the selection committee of countywide appointees did a great job of selecting the firms most qualified and also able to deliver more features for less than the budgeted amount.”
Money set aside in the capital improvement program for the system is nearly $9.3 million, but Beth Fleming, director of purchasing, expects the final amount to come in lower.
New Kenwood walkie talkie communications have been on the county’s agenda off and on for a while, but specifically for Sheriff William Travis since he was sworn into office January 2013.
The decision Tuesday morning was made not only with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office in mind, but for the entire county to improve communications systems. Members from various towns were on board and were involved in the tedious selection process, officials said.
Chief Deputy Randy Plemons said Motorola was selected because the committee believed what the company offered was better for the county as a whole.
Last year, the county had 13,890 busy signals using the current, trunked radio system, he said. Officials hope that with the new system there will be no busy signals for anyone working in communications, he said.
The walkie talkie system was activated more than 4 million times last year, according to a presentation by Travis.
“The county is not getting smaller, it’s only getting bigger,” Plemons said.
Fleming said the committee will start negotiations with Motorola. If an agreement cannot be reached, county officials will come back to commissioners to get approval to move onto the second-ranked firm, Harris Corp.
Fleming said it could be a few months before a contract is worked out. Besides giving interoperability between county agencies, included in the purchase will be new infrastructure — receivers, transmitters and everything that goes into the towers — as well as dispatch equipment and consoles. This will replace the current 18-year-old system, which was purchased used.
In other action, commissioners approved the temporary reassignment of the secretary to the County Civil Service Commission responsibilities to D’Lynne Shelton for the purposes of the appeal hearing of county employee Cynthia R. Clemetson, who has filed a lawsuit against human resources director Amy Phillips.
Eads was the only dissenting vote. He declined to comment on his vote, citing pending litigation.

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