Porter County may spend $1 million in hospital interest for fire radio upgrade

2012-06-19T17:45:00Z 2012-06-20T11:11:50Z Porter County may spend $1 million in hospital interest for fire radio upgradeBy Bob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Porter County commissioners agreed Tuesday to use nearly $1 million in interest money from the sale of the county hospital to update the system serving radios and pagers for most of the area's fire departments.

The move, which would be the largest single draw from the interest money since the 2007 sale, will address coverage problems and help the county prepare for new frequencies required by the federal government.

Final approval of the expenditure is now up to the County Council, which must sign off on all use of the hospital interest money.

The proposal calls for spending $985,520, with Motorola to install five transmitting and receiving stations and nine receiving stations, said Todd Bell, senior account manager with Motorola Solutions.

The county currently has one transmitting station and eight receivers, he said.

The system serves all the fire departments in the county, with the exception of Portage and Valparaiso, said Porter County Communications Director John Jokantas.

The new stations are expected to be in place within the next year, he said. The county is likely to ask for an extension on next year's deadline to comply with frequencies being narrowed by the federal government to make room for more users.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners agreed to move forward with negotiations that could lead to the county animal shelter being turned over to the nonprofit pet adoption group Lakeshore PAWS.

Commission President John Evans, R-North, said preliminary discussions have focused on the county providing the necessary land and contributing operational funding. PAWS would pay for the construction of a new shelter and take over the operations, Evans said.

He hoped a deal would be worked out in four or five months.

Porter County Councilwoman Laura Blaney, who has taken part in the talks as a member of the shelter advisory board, said she is pleased with the progress.

"Although the current director, Jon Thomas, has done an amazing job at turning the current shelter around, it's not a long-term solution," she said. "This is a long-term solution."

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