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Radio questions raised in public comments
Lorraine Trailhead funding OK'd
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Questions over the cost and effectiveness of a digital radio system for first responders were raised during public comments at the Special Purpose Local Option Sale Tax Citizens Oversight Committee meeting Monday.

During public comments, resident Steve Macke brought up concerns over the interoperability and cost of a digital radio system and the specifications in Rockdale County's request for proposals that he said was written towards a sole-source contract. Macke said he was a consultant who had worked for Motorola and county governments in the past but was currently speaking out as a concerned resident.

SPLOST Oversight Committee member Elaine Nash asked the Fire/911 subcommittee head to address some of the concerns and the information in an article from "Monitoring Times" that Macke handed out.

"Goodness knows there are barricudas out there, even if they are the giants of the industry," said Nash. "Value engineering, a lot of times, ends up costing a bunch."

However, subcommittee head Bill Hughey pointed out since there was an active RFP for the system, they could not comment on it in public until the RFP submission period was closed Oct. 13.

The radio system will be addressed during the next meeting of the Fire/911 subcommittee on Oct. 17, 5 p.m. at the Rockdale County Rescue and Fire Department headquarters on 1496 Rockbridge Road. The final recommendations will be brought to the SPLOST Oversight Committee in November and to the Board of Commissioners in December.

Newton County, which began the change from an analog system to a digital trunking radio system several years ago, experienced difficulties in coverage during its implementation.


Lorraine Trailhead moves forward 

The Committee unanimously approved using allocated funds in December to begin construction of the Lorraine Trailhead.

 Parks and Recreation subcommittee head Craig McCullough reported that the county received six bids for building the Lorraine Trailhead, ranging from $750,000 to about $1 million. The initial budget for the project was $512,000, but the county gained a $105,000 grant. The final budget was $608,000 in a bid from Georgia Development Partners.

The trailhead will start at the former junkyard at Ga. Highway 138.

"We're turning a junkyard into what's going to be a beautiful trailhead," said McCullough.

The trailhead will have 41 parking spaces, including two handicapped spaces, a 12-foot wide trail connecting to the South River trail, 5-foot wide asphalt trail, two river overlooks, a drainage pipe, and a deceleration lane and left turn lane, he said.

Nash asked if signs could be posted at the river overlooks warning visitors to not enter the river or to enter the river at their own risk.

"You never can tell when there's sanitary sewer overflows upstream," she said. The river carries sewage discharge from DeKalb County, she said.

County projects manager Andrew Hammer said he would work on some verbage for signs.

The trailhead is slated to be completed around March 2012.


In other SPLOST Oversight Committee business:

- The Committee unanimously approved the use of up to $50,000 for demolition and renovation of interior areas of the jail.