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Published: Wednesday, 6/15/2005

Monroe County looks south for solution to radio woes

MONROE - Monroe County authorities will seek to tap into a proposed new radio system in Lucas County to overcome weak signals in their radio system in Erie and Bedford townships.

Lt. David Thompson of the county sheriff's department told the county commissioners last night that the new 800mhz system that began operating Dec. 13 has been working well, except for a few glitches that need to be resolved.

The most pressing problem is pockets in the southern part of the county along the Ohio border where radio communication is spotty in certain locations. He said a long-term solution needs to be found.

He said Lucas County will be upgrading its radio system over the next few years and will install 12 new radio towers. He said the easiest solution would be to pay Lucas County a fee to install a transmitter on the tower closest to the Michigan border.

If the county had to build its own tower, it would cost at least $1.5 million, Lieutenant Thompson said, making the tie-in to the Lucas County system a more attractive possibility. He said he is in the early stages of talking with Lucas County officials about the matter.

Meanwhile, after a spirited debate, the board last night declined to fill one of two recent vacancies in the county's planning department.

The board earlier this year issued a hiring freeze. The freeze can be sidestepped if the county's chief financial officer, Charles Londo, believes a vacant position needs to be filled or if a county department loses 25 percent of its personnel through attrition.

In the case of the planning department, two of the department's nine employees retired May 31, but the department also includes a printing division, which muddled the issue of whether the departures comprised 25 percent of the department's personnel.

The measure passed 5-4. But since the proposal, by Commissioner James Goebel, was a nonagenda item, it takes a two-thirds majority for such items to pass.

In other business, the board declined to buy property that is up for auction by the state for the local Habitat for Humanity office until the city of Monroe offers its support.

Habitat officials asked the county to put up the state's $7,100 asking price for a parcel in the city's St. Mary's neighborhood. Once the property is purchased by auction, Habitat officials will pay the county back.



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