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County Board approves digital radio system plan for sheriff's office

SYCAMORE – Radio communications for DeKalb County emergency services can now be upgraded after the County Board approved a plan to for the sheriff's office to implement a new digital system for an amount not to exceed $4 million

DeKalb County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Andy Sullivan said the department has been looking to fix its radio system since late 2011.

“Problems have increased almost on a daily basis,” Sullivan said. “We've tried many things and hopefully within 13 months we'll have a new system in place. This involves our firemen and emergency medical service folks too and we need to take care of them.”

The proposed project would include the installation of four communication towers in strategic locations around the county. Mike Hammett of DeKalb and some board members, however, raised concerns about coverage within and around buildings with these towers.

Terry Burnworth, president of Indianapolis-based Pyramid Consulting, who recommended the project and has been responsible for the implementation of 20 radio systems in Indiana, maintained that the 800-megahertz system would be sufficient and said that once the system is installed, it will go through a 30-day testing period and if there are any requirements of the new system that are not met, the vendors will be required make the necessary changes.

Sullivan said the sheriff's office contacted two of the communities Pyramid Consulting has helped and they both spoke highly of the work Burnworth did.

The cost of the project would be covered, in part, by tipping fees from the additional 200,000 tons of special waste allowed annually in the county landfill.

A financing plan using interfund loans had also been proposed, which would include borrowing funds from the county, the DeKalb County Forest Preserve District and the DeKalb County Public Building Commission.

Board member Tracy Jones spoke in strong support of the proposal during discussions.

“I think this whole system is one of the best projects I've seen at the county level,” Jones said. “There's something in this for everyone.”

Although they agreed on the resolution, the County Board may have to make further rulings on the project for any intergovernmental agreements or land acquisitions related to the project.

During the meeting, the board also approved a special use permit for a roadside pumpkin stand, a land transfer that will allow the Sycamore Forest Preserve to officially open and a special use permit that would allow Whiskey Acres Distilling Co. to construct a 4,000-square-foot visitors center.

Board member Misty Haji-Sheikh said that Whiskey Acres has done a lot to bring attention to the county and was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Tribune.

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