The Henderson County radio committee revealed Harris Communications as its recommendation for a new, multi-million dollar communications system on Tuesday.
Committee Member, Precinct 4 County Commissioner Ken Geeslin, said on of the of the areas where Harris excelled was in customer service.
"We also felt is was important to evaluate the responses of the vendors to our questions," Geeslin said. "We would ask both vendors identical questions and within a two or three weeks we'd have another meeting. The one thing I felt on an ongoing basis over that period of time that Harris always came back with a clear and concise answer to the question, exactly as they asked, or they went a little bit farther."
Commissioners court will make the final choice, probably during one of its next two meetings, County Judge Wade McKinney said.
The county's goal is to upgrade to a P25 network, using four transmitter sites. McKinney said the upgrade is in keeping with the national effort after 9-11 to enable various emergency agencies to communicate through their radio equipment.
The proposed tower sites will be located in Athens, north of Poynor, in the northeast part of the county and on the west end of the county.
The Harris offer, chosen over the other finalist Motorola, is to provide a two-core network at a price of $4.5 million. Beginning in 2011, the county will pay annual maintenance costs of $269,369. That price is good if the contract is executed by June 27.
Committee member Ken Geeslin said Harris was chosen over Motorola. Motorala's proposal is to provide a two-core system for about $5.5 million. Annual maintenance charges will be $463,000. The price is good if the contract is executed by June 27.
Geeslin said in his presentation that the committee met 21 times in the past seven months. After narrowing the choices to two vendors, Motorola and Harris Electronics, the committee preferred Harris.
The county has $1.5 million set aside in the current budget for the system. The remainder will be budgeted over the next two years.
The committee formed for the task includes Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin, Precinct 4 Commissioner Chuck McHam and Sheriff Botie Hillhouse.
Hillhouse said there have been upgrades through the years, but he county hasn't had an overall change of the communications system since the 70s.
Objectives of the committee include implementing a network with the maximum amount of redundancy. They also wanted a vendor with excellent customer support.
County officials want to replace 104 mobile radio units and 96 portable radio units.
For volunteer fire departments, the county will provide some training, software upgrades and maintenance support. The county will also consider purchasing radios for the VFDs. Each department would get one mobile unit and two portable units. The total cost is estimated at $266,000. The price would be good through 2021.
The system change would be complete in the winter of 2021.