Sherman voters approve new communications system
SHERMAN — Volunteer firefighters and public works officials will soon be able to communicate throughout town with a new radio system approved by voters Saturday morning.
About a dozen residents unanimously voted in favor of spending $147,000 on the new “simulcast” system and signing a lease agreement for space on a nearby cell tower during a meeting at Town Hall.
Getting the new system in place was a campaign promise made by newly elected First Selectman Don Lowe, who took office Jan. 2.
“It will improve communication and improve safety in town for both our first responders and public works,” Lowe said after the vote Saturday. “This has been in the works for a while ... and it’s been my promise to the public works and fire department that when I took office I would get this completed as fast as possible.”
He said funding for the system has been on the town’s capital projects list for at least two years. The $147,000 will cover transmission for the system from two cell towers on opposite ends of town.
The lease agreement approved Saturday allows the town to use one of the two towers for $500 per month. An agreement for the second tower, which is under construction, will be negotiated in the coming week, Lowe said.
Chris Fuchs, a captain with the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department, said officials will start using the first tower as soon as possible.
“Antennas are up, cables are on, it’s plugged and play ready,” he told voters. “It’s going to be operational probably in three weeks.”
Both towers should be up and running sometime in February, Fuchs said.
Officials have said the new system will be a much-needed improvement to how they communicate throughout town.
They estimated the fire department’s “antiquated single repeater system” only covers about 30 percent of the town — or a roughly two-mile radius around the fire department. Sherman’s hilly topography makes it difficult for the older system to provide full coverage, officials said.
For public works, officials often rely on spotty cellphone service since they don’t have a repeater system.
The new system will provide both departments with about 95 percent coverage of the 23.4-square-mile town, both on hilltops and valleys.
“It’s been long overdue,” said Don Borkowski, the public works supervisor. “I’m all for it.”