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Ground-breaking next month for three new radio towers

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 October 2013 at 12:00 am

ALBION Orleans County expects to start construction on three new radio towers next month. The towers are part of $7.1 million upgrade to the county’s emergency communications system.

The county held a public hearing on the three towers on Wednesday. No one spoke in opposition to the 180-foot-high towers that will go in Shelby, Albion and Clarendon.

One will be on land owned by the town of Clarendon near its highway garage off Route 31A, the other will be next to the county’s Civil Defense Center on Courthouse Road in Albion and the other will be next to the Medina water tank on Route 31A. Medina and Clarendon both agreed to lease the land to the county at no cost.

Orleans County approved a $5 million deal last year with the Harris Corporation to rebuild the county’s emergency communications systems. Harris is reprogramming 1,100 portable radios and upgrading the dispatch center.

The county’s radio system was last overhauled in 1992. Orleans currently has one transmission tower on Countyhouse Road. That’s about 10 miles from the eastern and western ends of the county. Firefighters, police officers, and other first responders for years have complained that the county’s current radio system is often unreliable, particularly on the edges of the county.

The new towers should be up in the spring and the new system could be operational in April, county officials said.

The county was awarded a $2 million state grant towards the project from the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. Orleans has taken out a $4.5 million bond to help finance the costs of the upgraded system.