(12/11/2010)
By Bob Weaver

OES/911 Communication services in Calhoun will take a quantum leap forward during the next year or so, with the state's construction of a broadband tower at Broomstick, which will also be used for a 911 transmitter, improving coverage to northern Calhoun.

That project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2011.

Calhoun OES/911 Director Kathy Wood says the broadband tower is part of the state's Inter-operable Radio Project (IRP) a collaborative effort by state, county and municipal public safety entities to establish and maintain a statewide radio network.

The broadband tower is expected to bring Internet to local schools, emergency services and government agencies, but could be developed by private providers for community broadband service.

A project of Calhoun 911 is construction of a radio tower and transmitter near Letherbark, to provide radio communication for emergency services in areas where coverage is poor, which includes a large rural area in the lower West Fork region.

"Between the two new towers and transmitters, communications across the county will be greatly improved," said Wood.

The county 911 system has two other tower-transmitter sites, the main site at Mt. Zion and one on Mule Knob near Chloe.

Wood says the IRP system, which helps state-wide emergency services communicate, works much like cell phone towers, indicating that local responders will be operating on a dual-band system.

New mobile radio equipment is being sought for local emergency services.

"The goal of the projects is better communications to ensure the safety and well being of Calhoun citizens and emergency responders," Wood said.

The new state-wide IRP system, which includes the construction of several new tower/transmitter sites around the state, was created following the discovery of communication problems among agencies and jurisdictions following 9-11.


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