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E-911 not reliable for south Marengo County

Richard Rogers, president of the South Marengo County Fire and Rescue squad, appeared before the Marengo County Commission today to address the difficulty his rescue team has faced communicating during emergencies with the county’s E-911 com-center.

The communication problem, Rogers said, stems from the E-911 center’s focus on solid telephone communication while the rescue squad relies on a “repeater”-based radio system.

Rogers cited both the 196 calls his squad responded to in 2004 and the five tornadoes that have struck south Marengo communities in the past two years to illustrate the importance of more consistent communication lines. “We’re trying to help our rescuers help people at the right time,” he said.

Rogers suggested the purchase of an additional “repeater” could help open communication lines between the squad and E-911.

Emergency Management Agency director Kevin McKinney also addressed the issue, noting that the state government has set aside a sum of grant money from the federal Homeland Security department to be used for “inoperable communications” in areas like Marengo County.

Such money could be used to establish what McKinney called a “mutual-aid frequency” for county-wide radio communication between various law and emergency agencies.

McKinney also mentioned that the county could use an “ACU-1000” computer to help connect county emergency agencies through current existing frequencies.

The Commission thanked Mr. Rogers and Mr. McKinney for their time and do their best to find a solution to the problem.

Other business conducted at the Commission meeting went as follows:

The coaching staffs of state champion football teams Demopolis High and Sweet Water High were honored with both an official resolution and a plaque.

“We want you to know how proud all of Marengo County is of you,” said Commissioner Freddie Armstead.

The Commission approved $40,000 for the Parks and Recreation department to be used for a lighting system at the Sweet Water athletics field, which is currently lightless.

The county courthouse renovation project moved forward as the Commission voted to begin receiving bids for construction costs.

The Commission also agreed to investigate the possible purchase of an asphalt paving machine, in order to reduce the problems of rock-and-tar paving for the county’s roads.