ELLSWORTH — Local public safety agencies will soon no longer have to worry if their radios will work in Ellsworth’s schools and hospital after city councilors unanimously approved a $208,000 upgrade to the area’s radio communication system Nov. 18.
A piece of infrastructure on Dollard Hill off the Bucksport Road failed in 2017, said Ellsworth Police Department Sgt. Shawn Willey, but even before that “We couldn’t talk in the schools unless you were crossing your fingers, parted your hair right.”
Some of the equipment was put in place 30 years ago, said Willey, despite only having a 10-year lifespan.
“The system, no matter what we do, will get no worse than it is currently,” he said, adding that inadequate radio communication puts the community at risk.
The new digital communications system, which the department has been working on for more than a year with Brown’s Communications out of Bangor, will cost an estimated $208,079.95 for equipment, installation and continued maintenance for implementation for both the police and fire departments. Installation is slated for January and February.
The cost is expected to be covered under a $3.15-million bond anticipation note (BAN). Councilors unanimously approved awarding the BAN to KeyBank, which came in with an interest rate of 1.73 percent, the lowest of the six banks that bid. At that rate, the BAN will accrue $109,104.38 in interest when it comes due on Dec. 6, 2021.
The BAN proceeds also will be used to fund other projects and equipment, including a replacement rescue truck for the Fire Department, two plow trucks, upgrades to the Water Street Pump Station and reconstruction and upgrades to Alexis Way.