Commissioners approve communications upgrade

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

March 2, 2022

The Hill County Commissioners Court moved forward with a plan to upgrade the county’s communications systems for first responders at a meeting held Tuesday, February 22.

Last month, the court and representatives from several area Hill County law enforcement agencies and fire departments heard a presentation from Dailey-Wells Communications of San Antonio about the company’s communications solution.

Hill County Judge Justin Lewis said that the county is currently operating on a system that is less than ideal and will not be effective as the county grows. “Technology is leaps and bounds ahead of where we are,” he said.

The upgrade will be funded with American Rescue Plan funds and cost slightly over $1 million.

Dailey-Wells representatives Michael Lockwood and James Reid told the court that the company manages and maintains communications for the four largest utility companies in the state, along with a number of large police departments and other entities.

Hill County is the last county on Interstate 35 north of San Antonio that is not on a trunked system, Lewis said.

The county’s existing radios and equipment can be integrated into the new program, and the system will tie in with neighboring counties to ensure communication is maintained between agencies.

Lewis said that the program will allow for better communications both in Hill County and with other counties.

Lockwood and Reid explained that coverage can be extended beyond the capabilities of the two area radio towers by using push-to-talk technology. Communications between first responders can be maintained on both radios and smartphones.

In other agenda items, the court approved posting notice of the county’s intention to close a portion of Giant Cedar Trail in the Whitney area. Commissioner Andrew Montgomery said that the proposal involves a small portion of the road that does not serve the public but has become an area where trash is dumped. The court will take action after a public hearing set for Tuesday, April 12.

Other agreements approved by the court included a contract with McKinstry for construction management services on the county’s new Extension Office and a contract with Eligibility Tracking Calculators (ETC), LLC for software to assist the county with health care responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act.

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