CROWN POINT | Lake County officials are declaring their own emergency to find someone to build a communications tower for the county's new E-911 service.
The Lake County Board of Commissioners ordered E-911 Director Brian Hitchcock to find three construction firms willing to build the structure at the Lake County Government Center after no one bid to win the contract Wednesday.
Hitchcock said he believes several potential bidders backed out because they don't employ union workers. It will be Hitchcock's job to find a union contractor, Commission President Mike Repay, D-Hammond, said after the commissioners' regular meeting.
"The tower will be built union," Repay said. County officials are bound by a local government ordinance to use union labor on all public works projects.
Hitchcock said the county must build communications towers here and in Hobart to ensure their police, fire and emergency medical service communications reach more than 90 percent of the county.
Hitchcock said tower construction is urgent because work can take between two and three months to complete. The state has mandated Lake County to consolidate its 17 city, town and county public safety dispatch centers by year's end.
He said they cannot begin to build in Hobart until they get approval from city officials.
Three firms bid on a contract to sell the county 35 console work stations for the county's dispatchers. Commissioners took under advisement offers from Eaton, of Palos Heights, Ill., of $532,998; Evans Consoles Inc., of Vienna, Va., for $642,344; and Watson Furniture Group, of Poulsbo, Wash., for $494,620.
Commissioners voted to award contracts totaling $922,632 for air conditioning equipment, electrical generators and power distributors to Johnson Controls, of Milwaukee, and Thermosystems Inc. and Zonatherm Products Inc., of Illinois.
Commissioners will open bids at a special July 9 meeting to install equipment and furniture at the E-911 call center. Hitchcock said the county now is interviewing for the management staff.
In other actions, commissioners opened bids from three firms to buy hardware to create an E-poll system that would replace traditional poll books listing the names of the county's 349,000 eligible voters. It would help election workers ensure no one votes more than once.
Decision Support LLC, of Matthews, N.C.; Election Systems & Software, of Omaha, Neb.; KnowInk, of St. Louis; and Robis of Wheaton, Ill., put forward bids ranging form $898,416 to $1.094 million. Commissioners deferred action on choosing the winning bid.