Federal funds used to buy new radio equipment for sheriff’s office

Fayette County will be taking another look into Enhanced 911 emergency phone service for residents of the county. But the possible introduction of that service is not the main reason for the replacement of the communications system at the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.

Rather, the new equipment is being purchased because of the age and condition of the existing equipment.

U.S. Congressman John Shimkus (R-Ill.-19th District) came to Vandalia last Friday to present Sheriff Aaron Lay and several members of the county board with a check for $211,500.

Those federal dollars will fully fund the purchase, which is much needed for several reasons, Lay said.

Some of this equipment was put in in 1968, he said. Some of its solid state, older equipment, which means that its difficult to maintain and repair.

While the existing equipment, with the use of repeaters, provides adequate coverage of the county, Lay said, This, hopefully, will provide better coverage. What we have is high-powered, but its old.

Lay, who said that he plans to relocate the dispatchers area toward the center of the county jail, also said that the newer equipment will be useful should county residents one day approve funding for Enhanced 911 phone service.

A county board committee that is charged with studying the E911 issue held its first meeting last Wednesday evening.

County board Chairman Steve Knebel formed that committee which includes local police, fire and emergency medical personnel after Lockport-based GenDesign offered late last year to guide the county through the implementation of E911 service.

In order for the county to provide that service, county residents must approve the addition of a minimal monthly E911 surcharge to their phone bills.

County residents have twice rejected an E911 referendum, in 1991 and 1995.

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