Unicoi County Commission

Unicoi County Commission

Unicoi County commissioners voted Monday to table any discussion or vote on establishing a board to oversee emergency services communications until a study can show how to improve pockets of little to no radio reception.

Commissioner Todd Wilcox, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, told the commission the county’s emergency communications infrastructure needs an overhaul, but how that gets done is still in question.

“Our communication infrastructure needs to be upgraded,” Wilcox said. “We should get a study done instead of giving money just putting bandaids on it.” He had hoped the committee would be further along in looking into the communication issues so the commission could discuss establishing a communications board.

Wilcox asked that his fellow commissioners “keep that in the back of your head,” when the public safety committee brings a proposal to the full body.

That committee meets today (Tuesday) in the large courtroom at the courthouse at 1 p.m. Wilcox said he has spoken to communications officials in other counties to get ideas about what needs to be addressed.

“When you start getting into the maintenance of the towers, repeaters and stuff like that,” the committee hasn’t hammered out details of who would be responsible for that.

“A legislative body shouldn’t be over communications … it should fall under somebody that’s there 24/7,” Wilcox said.

In 2019, the commission approved the purchase and installation of two communications towers to improve how emergency service personnel exchange information with each other and with the dispatch center.

From staff reports