The Emergency Services Committee approved a proposal submitted by AMK Services to upgrade and repair the county's emergency communications radio system and made a recommendation it also be approved by the county commission and finance committee.

"I make a motion we go with AMK and go to finance committee and county commission. I think it's the best price, it has five towers (sites) and not four and they've done (radio system) work for the military and I think they know their job," Terry Carter, 6th District commissioner said.

Woody Geisler, 9th District commissioner, supported Carter's motion.

Prior to Carter's motion, Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr., said, "The current radio system is unreliable and the previous commission charged me to find someone to be over this project. I'm putting Keith Garrison, emergency management agency director, over the system and he will answer to me. He's been with the radio system since its inception. He works hand in hand with all emergency departments. He has the knowledge to step in and help get the system in order. He's not an expert, but he knows how it needs to work. I have to convey to you that we need to do something with the system to get it properly working."

Carey also said he had found a consulting company to help with upgrading the system, but he did not name the company.

Carter then made his motion.

"The companies were told in the RFP to either get the radio system working or they would not be paid. We will have a maintenance agreement with the new system. There have been technology upgrades that were recommended by him and Eric (Ritzman, P25 consultant) has gotten some of the blame for the problems. In all fairness, it hasn't been his fault. We need to work together to get this system up and running," Carey said.

Carey also said he had spoken with Cumberland County Finance Director Nathan Brock and funding for the system could come from the county's fund balance.

Dave Hassler, 3rd District commissioner asked Carey, "Is this the radio system you recommend?"

"I have no problem with AMK. The only problem I had with Motorola was it was a four tower system and it seems like in our terrain, the more tower sites, the better," Carey said.

Tom Isham, 2nd District commissioner, who is not on the committee, but attended the meeting, said he thought the county should consider using a VHF digital system like Putnam County.

"They are happy with their radio system and the radios are only $500 to $600 per radio, not $2,000. I'm scared to death of the P-25 system. If you Google P-25 radio system problems, you get page after page after page of problems," Isham said.

The approximate cost of the AMK radio system upgrade is $1.5 million.

Three companies responded to the RFP and submitted bids: AMK Services from Kentucky, Central Communications of Knoxville and Motorola from Knoxville.

AMK’s bid was $1.5 million for a new system. 

Motorola’s bid was $1.7 million for a new system.

Both are simulcast systems, rather than multicast, which is what the current system operates with.

The Motorola system includes four tower sites, and AMK includes five tower sites.

The recommendation will go before the budget committee and county commission.

Gary Nelson may be reached at

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