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County fills Henning's emergency radio 'gap'

Otter Tail County has taken action to address an emergency communications gap.

Last Tuesday, county commissioners approved a $165,000 purchase of equipment to meet radio system needs in the Henning area, as well as $52,900 to provide for an adequate microwave link.

The purchases are part of the county's plans to change over to a new 800 MHz radio system by the New Year.

The new system will allow for uniformity with the state of Minnesota as part of ARMER (Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response). It will allow county personnel to communicate across the entire county.

"We made a previous commitment for 100 percent emergency communications coverage from one end of the county to the other," said Commissioner John Lindquist at the Dec. 11 county board meeting. "Today's county board action will allow for the needed capacity in the Henning area."

Funding grants will assist the county in paying for these needed additions, said County Sheriff Department Lt. Matt McGuire. He said a microwave link will run from Henning to New York Mills.

"This will put the eastern half of Otter Tail County back on track with communications," said Commissioner Roger Froemming.

Board Chairman Lee Rogness said improved safety and communication for residents are two major reasons why the county is part of this changeover.

Commissioners previously approved a Motorola dispatch console and ARMER Connection contract.

The system includes Motorola hand-held portable radios. Mobile radios for vehicles come with lighting head displays that are easy to read while driving.

Also purchased were 75 pagers to completely switch over to all the fire departments in order to have capability of narrowbanding.

There currently are seven towers around the county as part of the changeover to the new system.

The last tower was positioned near Amor.