Schools Move to Improve Communications System

The Ohio County Board of Education may enter an agreement with the Ohio County Commission to improve radio communications for school buses, pending a future board vote.

Board members Christine Carder, Gary Kestner, Sarah Koegler and Shane Mallett, along with President James Jorden, also moved to hire retired Wheeling police officer Ronald Didion as a school bus driver among several personnel actions.

On hand to address the board regarding the radio communications were Ohio County Commissioner Tim McCormick, Ohio County Administrator Greg Stewart and Ohio County Emergency Management Director Lou Vargo. McCormick said the county has invested more than $2 million to improve communications for emergency services personnel over the last few years.

“Good communication is a great asset for public safety,” McCormick added.

Vargo said there are very few places in the county that the new radio system does not reach, which he said is a major improvement from a few years ago when there were several places that lacked proper radio communication capability.

“I like the goals of efficiency and public safety,” Jorden said regarding the radios.

Transportation Director David Ziegler previously said the project would allow the schools’ transportation department to use the statewide VHF, or very high frequency, trunking radio system used by the county’s fire and police departments. He said the schools’ current radio system does not provide full coverage of the county including areas in West Liberty, Bethlehem, Warwood and Short Creek.

Superintendent Dianna Vargo thanked McCormick, Stewart and Lou Vargo for their information and noted the board would take action on the matter during a future meeting.

Board members later agreed to hire Didion as a bus driver. Jorden acknowledged the board has multiple retired Wheeling police officers and firefighters among its bus driving ranks, including Ziegler.

“They are all excellent drivers,” Jorden said.

Vargo said the school district will need to make up three days that were missed because of snow this year, but she said a final decision on when the days will be made up is yet to be determined.