Central Dispatch asks St. Louis to host public safety antennas

By Ralph Echtinaw

Gratiot County Central Dispatch Authority finds itself in urgent need of a new host for two public safety communication antennas and hopes St. Louis will come to the rescue.

We are seeking to transfer existing radio equipment from a site in the City of Alma to the City of Saint Louis (Giddings Street) water tower,” said Central Dispatch Director Dan Morden via email. “We have been working with the current Alma site owner for many years. Our agreement has been extended a number of times over the past five years.”

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Giddings Street water tower

But safety concerns with the tower hosting Central Dispatch antennas prompted the Alma site owners to decline another lease extension. The Central Dispatch antennas must be removed by Dec. 31.

That leaves Central Dispatch with the need for another place to host antennas for “simulcast VHF paging of fire/rescue resources, and VHF encrypted digital voice fire/rescue communications,” Morden said. 

So Central Dispatch turned to St. Louis for help.

“It’s kind of a big deal attaching anything on our water tower,” City Manager Kurt Giles told city council Tuesday, Nov. 5. “But, of course, public safety is, too. It would be two antennas on one mast. One for VHF communication. The other for pagers. As we get into the details, the standby power, the electric service and stuff, I expect there should be a charge to central dispatch so the city is being made whole for what we provide. It’s a matter of getting through the details and having something we can recommend to council.”

Giles hopes to recommend something at a city council meeting in December.

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