County needs to press for VIPER

Jan. 17, 2013 @ 05:11 AM

On Friday, the Rutherford County Commissioners will sit down with state Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherfordton and state Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Spruce Pine to discuss the county's legislative goals for the 2013 session.

Among the top priorities is the need for a new VIPER tower to be erected in Chimney Rock.

Now, sometimes these legislative goal sessions can be blown off or little attention paid to them but this might be a little different.

Here, the county is hoping to have the state help in putting up a communication tower to help with emergency communication.

The need for it is due to a mandate from the federal government to switch emergency frequencies.

Regardless of the mandate, the need here is for our emergency responders to have the ability to communicate with each other.

Now, the 911 Communications Center can "hub" the communication between first responders but that will have to change soon when counties and cities have to make the switch to 800 mHz frequencies for its communication.

The issue is that small and volunteer departments are still using 100 or 200 mHz radios to communicate. Those will not "talk" to an 800 mHz radio because of the difference in frequencies. It means that any department using 800 mHz for its communications cannot talk to those other departments that might be using 100 or 200 mHz radios.

That presents some real problems in an emergency situation.

We often talk about making communication a real priority among citizens in the county but, this is a situation where real communication is in jeopardy because of this switch.

The job of any public government agency is to protect the citizens of which they serve.

Not allowing a new communication tower in the Chimney Rock area falls well short of that job.

In addition to creating better emergency communication among responders, placing the tower at Chimney Rock eliminates any potential gaps in emergency communication that might occur.

We certainly hope that Rutherford County commissioners take a hard stance with its legislative goal of getting the state to place another tower in the county.

We also hope that our state lawmakers take the request under serious advisement and make every effort to have the tower placed to enhance the safety of the citizens of Rutherford County.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board


The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark