Fiscal Court photo

Jay Burla (left), an area sales manager for Motorola, addressed the Marshall County Fiscal Court last week regarding a possible solution to the communications issues experienced by first responder agencies in the county.

Motorola Solutions will be pitching a detailed proposal to the Marshall County Fiscal Court in the coming weeks that could fix many of the communications issues experienced by first responder agencies like the sheriff’s office for so long.

The county would add itself into a developing communications system that is being funded largely by the Kentucky State Police, Jay Burla, an area sales manager for Motorola, told the court last week.

Judge-Executive Kevin Neal and E911 Director Chris Freeman lauded the idea, saying it could correct a lot of the major radio communication troubles that were thrust back into the spotlight last year.

“This is probably one of the best options that we have in cost sharing and fixing a problem that has obviously been a problem for this community, and other communities around us, for years,” Neal said.

Should the court enter a contract with Motorola Solutions, Freeman said only a single tower in the county would need to be upgraded to be a part of the system, saving considerable money the court would otherwise be spending on expensive equipment for their own infrastructure. Freeman had also been working on a Kentucky Office of Homeland Security grant that would be put towards making Marshall’s addition to the system a reality.

The court unanimously approved a resolution to submit the grant.

Burla said this initiative is “ground zero” for Motorola’s planned rollout, which will begin with KSP Posts 1 and 2 over the next 12 months. Then the company will slowly work its way east across Kentucky.

“From an interoperability standpoint, whether you’re doing prisoner transports, whether you’re trying to talk to your next county, whether you’re trying to talk to state police, the technology goes back and forth and works with multiple systems,” Burla told the court.

Marshall County’s first responders have experienced extensive radio issues due to the county’s aged and neglected communications equipment for years. In many parts of the county, first responders would not be able to reach dispatch over their radios, making potentially dangerous situations even worse.

In September 2020, Marshall County Sheriff Eddie McGuire hosted a public forum at Benton City Park and spoke to the need for fixing the issues once and for all, while also expressing dissatisfaction with the fiscal court’s prioritization of funds in other areas rather than addressing the radios in a timely manner.

Also during last week’s fiscal court update, Freeman point out that it’s National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, and asked that they be thanked for their never-ending service.

“We have been put through the ringer over the past couple years, so it might be a good idea to reach out to those folks and say ‘Hey, we thank you for what you do,’ ” he said.

Deputy Judge-Executive Brad Warning provided a reminder regarding reimbursement for certain residents that are required to tap into the new Draffenville sewer line. Any resident within 500 linear feet of the line is required to connect to it. Those who choose not to connect, knowing it was required, could incur daily fines from $50 to $5,000, with each day being a separate charge.

To be reimbursed, homeowner’s would pay a plumber to do the work, then “turn everything” over to Warning, who will then write a check for 90% of what was paid, regardless of the homeowner’s income. He also added that income information would not be required.

Warning said the deadline for homeowners to submit for reimbursement is March 2022. Funding for reimbursement will be available until September 2022.

The court also approved a plethora of action items last week, including:

  • Accepted a bid from Murtco, Inc. in the amount of $966,040 for work on the Draffenville West Sewer Project. Commissioner Kevin Spraggs was the only dissenting vote.
  • Unanimously approved a resolution for the submission of a homeland security grant in the amount of $114,000 for four heart monitors.
  • Unanimously accepted a bid from Norwood Electric for $19,420 to fix many of the ballparks’ lights. The money is being taken from the Parks Foundation funds.
  • Unanimously approved a revisement for Marshall County Sanitation District employees being compensated for their work in the local school district. It was increased from $1,900 to $2,466.67 a month for the whole workforce.
  • Unanimously approved a resolution for the submission of a Community Development Block Grant for utility assistance in the amount of $208,400. Neal said there were 1,277 delinquent accounts.
  • Unanimously approved a title change to road department employee, Nicole Ford, to better reflect her responsibilities. There was no change to her income.
  • Unanimously approved the hiring of seasonal personnel for the road department and parks department.
  • Unanimously approved changing the occupational tax deadline to May 17, keeping inline with the federal government’s individual filing deadline.
  • Unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding between Marshall County Fiscal Court and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture regarding mosquito spraying.
  • Unanimously approved occupational tax transfers, including $80,000 to the Jail; $25,000 General-Fund 79 to the sheriff’s office; $8,956.58 to General-Park; and $13,434.72 to the road fund.
  • Approved a measure to update Commissioner Justin Lamb’s photo within the courthouse--at his own expense. Neal was the only dissenting vote, citing consistency issues.