Henderson County Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved a request for four representatives to get some hands-on training on the P25 Interoperable Emergency Communications System the county is purchasing.

L3Harris Technologies will set up the equipment in a warehouse for the county representatives to examine.

"We'll actually be able to simulate an emergency, turn things on, turn things off and see how quickly they react," said Jody Vincik of the IT Department.

In June, 2019. Commissioners voted purchase the $4.5 million system from Harris Communications. The Phase 2 P25 system replaces the one the county has used since the mid-70s.

In recent years bandwidth on the VHF frequencies has been narrowed, making it harder to pick up transmissions cleanly. Radio coverage was spotty and all but disappeared in some areas of the county.

P25 Phase 1 was designed to use the same bandwidth as a narrow band FM channel, meaning they could be used side by side, and narrow band FM channels could gradually be replaced by P25 digital channels. Phase 2 provides two effective digital channels per 12.5 kilohertz.

"I'm excited to go test drive our system and make sure it works, then put our signature on it, that we'll accept it" Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said. "This is all new equipment. We do not know how it operates. This two days isn't going to get all of the training we need, but it will give us a knowledge base so our dispatchers will know which direction they need to start thinking."

Commissioners also voted in favor of the Employee Wellness Incentive Program. When the county employees participate in the program, it helps keep the cost of health insurance down. Pct. 3 Commissioner Chuck McHam said this is needed to slow down the steady increase in premiums. Employees will save $25 per month for cessation of tobacco use and $25 for taking a wellness physical.

In other action, Commissioners:

• approved an interlocal agreement between the county and the City of Log Cabin to conduct the November election for the municipality;

• approved an interlocal agreement between the county and City of Trinidad for labor and equipment;

• authorized payment of bills totaling $278,148.73.

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