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New committee formed to address radio system

Following a closed session meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) to discuss legal matters that may arise regarding the county’s newly contracted communication system with Radio Communications of Virginia (RCV), supervisors have now agreed to develop a third committee.

The county is currently under contract with RCV for a 2.8-million-dollar system that the county’s fire, EMS (emergency medical services) and police departments say will not meet its needs.

“The board is committed to purchasing new radio equipment as soon as possible, not recklessly soon, but as soon as reasonably possible,” said County Attorney Russell Slayton. “This board has already invested a great deal of time in compiling information, so the board is hardly at ground zero today.”

In addressing the creation of a new committee, Slayton further said, “the board wants to include the County representatives but also include the user to be sure that what they buy serves their needs.”

According to Slayton, the radio equipment committee will consist of eight members with a goal of making a recommendation to the BOS by Dec. 10.

The closed session meeting and establishment of the committee came following a Nov. 7 meeting in which the BOS presented a 10-page document to county fire, EMS, and police personnel containing answers to their questions and concerns.

Those answers were provided by both county staff, RCV representatives, and the county’s consultant on the radio project.

The new committee will include Aspen/Phenix Supervisor Donna Fore and Wylliesburg/Red Oak Kay Pierantoni, who formerly served on the second committee. Supervisor Crystal Shepherd will serve as an alternative. The remaining members will include representatives from fire, EMS, the sheriff’s department, the school system, two county staff members, and the county consultant for the radio system.

“Hopefully, we can resolve the differences and misunderstandings. Last week’s meeting certainly only widened the gap, in my opinion,” said Pierantoni. “We have a signed contract with RCV. Most unfortunately, there were misconceptions that were not cleared before the contract was signed. As I understand, this committee is tasked with  clearing up any misconceptions and the possibility of exploring a change order for a few aspects of the contract.”

Since the BOS approval of the contract with RCV in August there have been many questions and issues brought before the Board including the need for advance encryption, not providing handheld radios for Virginia State Troopers covering the county and the most recent issue brought up by president of the Charlotte County Firefighters Association, Walt Bailey.

In the Nov. 13 edition of The Charlotte Gazette, Bailey expressed his concerns that the RFP asked for 12 talk paths but only received 4.

“We called for a trunking system with a minimum of 12 talk paths that dispatch could follow, not only was this in the RFP it was reiterated on June 22, 2018, by the county purchasing agent as addendum 3 item 2 of the addendum calls for 12 talk paths, item 3 of the addendum calls for a truck system, item 14 calls for all 12 talk paths to have dispatch console capabilities,” explained Bailey.

Section 3, Page 2 of RCV’ proposal, states that it meets and exceeds RFP specifications.

According to Bailey, each subsequent meeting that they had with RCV it was reiterated many times as to why their conventional system would not meet the needs of the fire departments.

“Our No. 1 concern is the safety of our people while operating in hazardous environments,” said Bailey. “

In the end, the Charlotte County Firefighters Association has asked that the Board terminate or rewrite the contract with RCV so it will better suit its needs.

The new committee is expected to present its recommendations to the BOS during its Dec. 11 meeting.