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Emergency communication options weighed by county


Fri, Aug 21st, 2009
Posted in Government

The Fillmore County Board held a special meeting on August 18 to review the pros and cons of three potential future emergency communication systems. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an independent US government agency responsible to congress, is mandating that all public communication systems must be narrowbanded by January 1, 2013.

Scott Wiggins, director of Emergency Communications Networks, Minnesota Department of Public Safety, gave a history of the state's Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER) plan and its progress over the past eight years. ARMER is Minnesota's long term interoperable communications planning. In 2004, a 21-member board was set up with seven state, seven local metro, and seven greater Minnesota officials. Sixty-two million has been set aside statewide for an 800 megahertz (MHz) system, which would meet the FCC requirements. Nearly one million dollars is set aside specifically for Fillmore County.

In 2007, a 30 cent increase in the 911 fee was imposed to build a fund for the ARMER and 911 system. Revenue bonds in the amount of $186 million were authorized. The state is paying for the backbone infrastructure of the system, including operation and maintenance costs.

In order to achieve the state's vision of a statewide 800 MHz system, many towers have already been built and many more are in the process of being built with state funds. Fillmore County will have four towers and will be able to utilize near towers in surrounding counties. Wiggins noted the ARMER plan at this point in time is for voice, but it is proposed to one day transmit data. The plan is expected to achieve at least 95 percent statewide coverage. The ultimate goal is interoperability.

Wiggins maintained the need to replace current communication systems was expressed in the 911 Commission Report, which detailed the inability of emergency personnel to communicate caused the loss of about 300 firefighters in New York City. The state isn't mandating the use of the 800 MHz system. There are two other alternatives which could comply with the FCC mandate for narrow banding. Narrow banding, in simple terms, allows for more channels. The FCC in its first phase has mandated 12.5 kHz channels by 2013. This is just an interim step. This was made clear in a memorandum adopted by the FCC in 2008 stating "that 12.5 kHz technology is a transitional step in the eventual migration to 6.25 technology." The 6.25 would probably no .....
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Preston Council and utility review proposed contract extension

Fri, Aug 21st, 2009
Posted in Government

The Preston Utility Commission and the Preston City Council met for a second week together on August 18 to study the analysis completed by R. W. Beck, Inc. The firm was tasked by Preston and several other communities that are currently members of th ..... 
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Preston discusses parking ordinance for residential streets

Fri, Aug 21st, 2009
Posted in Government

Preston Police Chief Matt Schultz, along with City Administrator Joe Hoffman, described the concern over "on street parking" of semi trucks and trailers and recreational vehicles at the city's August 17 meeting. Hoffman said the city has received an ..... 
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Lanesboro strives for approved 2010 budget

Fri, Aug 21st, 2009
Posted in Government

Lanesboro's City Administrator Bobbie Vickerman informed the City Council that the skateboard park had been vandalized for the second time in two weeks. She said the panels were ripped off, cigarettes were all over the place, graffiti had been spray ..... 
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Preston considers its energy future

Fri, Aug 14th, 2009
Posted in Government

The Preston City Council met in special session with the Preston Utility Commission to hear a presentation from the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) early on August 10. Four officers of the company, including Ray Hayward, CEO, Larry ..... 
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Spring Valley's new ambulance

Fri, Aug 14th, 2009
Posted in Government

The August 10, 2009, Spring Valley City Council meeting might have been classified as one of the shorter meetings. The main item on the agenda was the purchasing of a new ambulance. City Ambulance Director Jim Cooper was present to review the option ..... 
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Harmony approves EDA loans

Fri, Aug 14th, 2009
Posted in Government

Two public hearings were held before the regular city council meeting in Harmony on August 11. The first one was for the street assessment project on 5th Avenue SE. The property owners that will be affected by the project, Fred Young and Allan Dahl, ..... 
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Ropes has dialogue with county board

Fri, Aug 14th, 2009
Posted in Government

State Senator Sharon Ropes reviewed details of the last legislative session and took notes on commissioner concerns to be explored in the next session at their August 11 meeting. Ropes continues to make an effort to visit cities, townships and count ..... 
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Rushford City Council "takes a stab" at a community center

Fri, Aug 14th, 2009
Posted in Government

At the Monday, August 10th meeting of the council, the city made the decision to move forward with plans to seek out proposals on the construction of a 400-seat community center. On a limited budget, the city is offering grant funds of $593,000 for ..... 
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