DARKE COUNTY — At its Wednesday regular session, the Darke County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to seek funding for a Multi-Agency Radio Communications System (MARCS) tower near Union City, Ohio.
The move comes on the heels of a year-and-a-half effort to transition the county’s law enforcement, fire and emergency services from traditional VHF communications to the state-operated communications system.
The board has contracted Susan Laux of Key Funding Services to apply for a Local Government Safety Capital Grant. The county is pursuing a maximum request of $500,000 towards the tower’s construction.
As part of the effort, the county solicited “memorandums of understanding” from Darke County’s 20 townships, all of which have signed on to the grant request. The commissioners reiterated that by agreeing to support the grant process, none of the townships are on the hook for the project’s costs.
Director of Darke County’s Emergency Management Agency Mindy Saylor, noting a quick turnaround time for the grant request, said getting the memorandums together required some scrambling.
“The townships really came through for us,” she said. “I really want to give them a lot of praise.”
Commissioner Mike Rhoades, who has worked on a committee exploring acquisition of the MARCS system for the county, said, “By having more collaboration with the local townships, it gives us a better chance of receiving the grant.”
Darke County Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker, on hand at the commission meeting, said that Motorola had initially provided an estimate of $855,000 for the tower project. The estimate was lowered to approximately $676,000 as the county has pursued used equipment, including a building, generator and propane tank.
The 200-foot tall, self-supported tower will be constructed on land at Union City’s industrial park, near the village’s water tower. Saylor said the village has agreed to cede the parcel of land for the tower but she was “not sure yet” if the location would eventually transfer to county or state ownership.