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Board discusses Volunteer Fire Department radio proposal

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors discussed a proposal to replace or upgrade the radio systems used by volunteer fire departments throughout the county before ultimately deciding to consider other options.

Local volunteer fire departments have requested new radio equipment, claiming that bad reception and outdated equipment are making their jobs more dangerous.

“I represent the fire department, and every day we are talking about the radio system,” said Emergency Management Director Danny Manley, “If a generator fails, then we lose our communication system right now, and there’s no way to tell if it’s down.”

Manley added that most departments have instituted daily radio inspections to make sure the equipment is working properly.

The notion of switching to the statewide Mississippi Wireless Information Network 700-megahertz radio system that the Sheriff’s Department currently uses was mentioned, but District III Supervisor Dennis Dedeaux said that he did not view the move as the best option.

Dedeaux suggested the Board meet with other vendors to gather whatever information necessary to upgrade the radios rather than replacing them.

County Administrator Adrian Lumpkin said while there is an argument that the existing radio system is obsolete, they are still being used in a lot of different places.

“If we were to move to the 700 system and scrap everything else, it must be done through the state,” said Lumpkin.

The cost of switching to that system could be more than $600,000, although that figure is not definite.

“I’m not against doing it or saying it’s not needed, but you’re going to have to show me where the money will come from,” said District I Supervisor Anthony Hales.

Dedeaux motioned to table the proposal in order to gather more information on upgrading the radios. Hales remained adamant in his opposition to the motion.

“I don’t care if it’s ten dollars,” said Hales, “If your money is already spoken for then you still have to get more money.”

“I’m open to finding another option, but we have to fix these guy’s radios,” said District V Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith, “You can’t put a price on somebody’s life.”

In other business, the board:

–       Approved the Sheriff Department’s request for a clothing allowance policy, which will permit officers to purchase their own clothes with the appropriate funding provided to them.

–       Approved the Road Manager’s request to bid on a Mack Truck at auction.

–       Awarded their annual $250 contribution to the South MS 4-H FFA District Livestock Show.

The Board will meet again on Dec. 1 at 9 a.m.