County’s new 911 system, dispatch center nearly complete

Published 9:55 pm Friday, October 12, 2018

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Despite the impending arrival of Tropical Storm Michael in the Hampton Roads on Thursday, Isle of Wight County went ahead with its planned intergovernmental meeting that evening, held at The Smithfield Center in downtown Smithfield.

Emergency preparedness, however, was one of the main topics of discussion — specifically, the status of the county’s new 911 system and dispatch center. The 800 MHz system, which includes a total of five microwave towers in the county, is expected to go online sometime before the end of the year. It is designed to integrate with Suffolk’s system and that used by York County and the cities of Poquoson and Williamsburg.

Partnering with Suffolk, the county claims, allowed Isle of Wight to save on the cost of the project by sharing the Suffolk system’s “brain” and some of the coverage provided by Suffolk’s towers that border the county.

Towers in Isle of Wight County now include one on Holly Run Drive near Carrsville, one on Woody Way near Smithfield, one at the Isle of Wight County Fairgrounds near Windsor, one at Nike Park near Carrollton, one near the Isle of Wight County Courthouse and one in Rushmere. The first three are all 400-foot towers. The Nike Park tower is 300 feet tall. The courthouse tower is 130 feet and the Rushmere tower is 200 feet.

All are built to be able to co-locate two other wireless providers, which will generate revenue for the county if a company such as Sprint or AT&T were to lease tower space.

County Administrator Randy Keaton said that the project remains on budget, with the county having borrowed approximately $8 million to fund the upgrades.

In other business, the county’s planning and zoning staff updated representatives of both towns on the remaining two options for future land use proposed for the county’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan. The two towns also revisited a discussion regarding the possibility of the towns and county consolidating some departments such as purchasing, finance, building and grounds maintenance, fleet maintenance, utilities and law enforcement. Smithfield Councilwoman Denise Tynes said that the matter had last been discussed in 2013.

Windsor Councilwoman Patty Flemming suggested that Windsor and the county also consider partnering on an expansion to the town’s branch of Blackwater Regional Library.