Timeline set for communication Request for Proposal

Published 9:12 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2021

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
Carter County officials want to award bids for a new first responder communication system by June 2022.
The county’s financial management committee on Monday set timelines for the project, which is estimated to cost $3.8 million.
“I sat down with County Attorney Hardin and went through this RFP line by line,” said Commissioner Aaron Frazier. The new timeline is as follows:
  • RFP posted – Dec. 15.
  • Site visit – Jan. 14, 2022.
  • Question and Answer session closed – Feb. 15, 2022.
  • Closing date for proposals – March 15, 2022.
  • Opening date for proposals  – March 18, 2022.
  • Legal review.
  • Financial Management review – April 4, 2022.
  • Present to commission – April 18, 2022.
  • Bid awarded – June 2022.
The radios would be used for the county’s first responders including fire departments, EMT, the highway department and the school systems.
“(School systems) have to have a particular type of radio because the P25 radio functions less reliably indoors and so they would have a WiFi type radio where the signal would go out to the repeat and then on out from there,” said Frazier. “VHF works better inside a building than UHF and that is common knowledge.”
The county had originally considered hiring someone to oversee communications, but that position was placed on hold. Now, officials are questioning the need for someone to oversee the project. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable with $3.8 M in communications if there wasn’t someone in the county that is the watchdog to make sure that the coordination and the operation is going as planned,” said committee chairman Brad Johnson.
Frazier also expressed the lack of a point person to oversee the RFP and bid process. “A point of contact needs to be set,” he said. “I had reached out to 911 and received a letter from their attorney stating that 911 couldn’t participate. I also reached out to Billy Harrell, the EMA director, but technically Billy would be in the same boat as I am and wouldn’t know enough to be effective.”
When  Johnson suggested the Carter County Sheriff’s Department, which likely will be the biggest user of the system, Frazier said representatives also declined.
“I reached out to them but they declined to name a contact, and Commissioner Isaiah Grindstaff respectively declined since he is on the commission as well and I agree with him,” said Frazier.
“To me, we needed the individual before this went into place,” said Mayor Patty Woodby. “I don’t know if we want to go ahead and hire to get that position filled since we have allocated that salary.”
The committee took no action on the position at this time.
Companies who previously made a site visit will not be required to return on Jan. 14, 2022. Woodby said Communications International (CI) and Motorola have been in contact since they have already presented to the Commission in the first round and were waiting for the new timeline.
The switch to the new system could take up to several months to complete after the bids are awarded, as the new provider will have to build a new communication tower.

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