By KELLY DANIELS
Due to a new communications mandate, local officials are updating a radio safety tower and moving it across town.
Cell phone activity has interrupted safety communication systems across the country, leading to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order to move emergency radios out of the frequency spectrum of cell phone signals.
The tower that local firefighters and law enforcement officers use at Mississippi State University will likely move behind the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex, MSU utilities administrator Ralph Nobles said.
“We’ve been plagued with interference for many many years,” Emergency Management Director Jim Britt explained.
Safety adjustments include an estimated $12 million upgrade on equipment and associated radio towers, giving Oktibbeha County one of the most modern communication systems available.
“We would not be able to afford this at all on our own,” Britt said.
County and city staff use 800 to 1,000 radios signaled by the tower.
“Basically, this is a completely new updated radio system at no cost to the local people,” Britt added. “So this is a huge benefit for everybody.”
Starkville city officials, however, only have one complaint.
“They’re trying to plant the thing in downtown Starkville,” Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill said, explaining that the 190-foot tower in the heart of the city could dampen beautification efforts.
“That ain’t a good thing,” she said.
City staff members are still reviewing options for the upgrade, Spruill said.
“We’re limited, and that’s part of the problem,” Spruill said.
“We’re going to have to work our way through that, she added.