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Ohio, Brooke Counties Working Together on Radio System

WELLSBURG — The Brooke County Commission recently announced it will form a partnership with the Ohio County Commission to improve communications between the county’s 911 call center and emergency departments.

Last week, the Brooke County Commissioners approved a resolution calling for the two counties to share Ohio County’s digital radio system, one that automatically assigns frequency channels to groups of users.

Details of the arrangement are expected to be formally approved during the commission’s meeting Tuesday.

County Commissioner A.J. Thomas said there will be costs for Brooke County involved but the county also will benefit through the buying power the Ohio County Commission has employed while purchasing equipment in bulk for itself and other counties with similar agreements.

The move was made at the recommendation of Scheeser Buckley Mayfield, a Uniontown, Ohio consulting firm hired by the commission to resolve long-running difficulties with radio reception between the 911 center, police, firefighters and ambulance crews.

The effort recently received a free boost with the addition of equipment to a radio tower at Weirton’s north end by officials with the West Virginia Statewide Interoperable Radio Network.

Thomas said the equipment greatly improves the coverage area while addressing the issue of local emergency communications competing with signals in the Pittsburgh area.

County Commissioner Stacey Wise said there still is work to be done, including upgrading equipment within the 911 center itself and adjustments that will be needed when that occurs.

“We know there will be some bumps in the road and we’ll need to tweak things,” she said.

Christina White, director of the 911 center, said she’s pleased the county is moving forward with the matter.

White said she looks forward to law enforcement and emergency personnel having new radios in their vehicles and on their person that are compatible with the others.

She added the radios also will be under the same maintenance contract. Thomas acknowledged Ohio County officials have worked with the commission on issues involving emergency communications, having supported the relocation of a tower in the West Liberty area to boost reception for first responders there.

“We’ve had a great relationship with Ohio County and with Hancock County as well,” he said.

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