LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners yesterday approved the expansion of a previously approved grant for the Belknap County Sheriff 's Department which will allow it obtain a new digital radio valued at $3,500. It will replace a 20-year-old portable unit still in use.
Sheriff Craig Wiggin told commissioners that the new Motorola radio meets interoperability standards and is made possible by the distribution of nearly $500,000 in 2010 grants through the state Department of Safety.
''It is possible that there may be more funds available next year,'' Wiggin told commissioners.
Commissioners also opened the only bid received for the installation of a microwave regional communications system.
The project will be funded with a $297,110 Department of Homeland Security grant which will the department received earlier this year.
The bid from 2Way Communications on Lily Pond Road in Gilford totaled $297,107 according to calculations made by County Commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia). Ossipee Mountain Electronics of Moultonborough submitted a letter to commissioners indicating it would not bid on the project.
Wiggin recently told commissioners that a waiver of the county's requirement for at least three bidders would most likely be needed as few firms have the capability of installing the system, which he has described as being ideal for the county as it has simulcast capability, can use the existing tower on Mt. Belknap and is capable of being used by the Lakes Region Mutual Aid system in the event of an emergency in which their system went down.
He said that the grant will allow a long-sought communications upgrade, which had been proceeding on a piecemeal basis to this point, to be achieved in one big step. The new system is state of-the-art and will provide 95 to 97 percent coverage of the entire county, which Wiggin has said will have a huge public safety benefit.
Commissioners were updated by County Administrator Debra Shackett on progress on preparing next year's operating budget. She said that all initial requests from department heads will be received by Friday and that the departments would work together to prepare recommendations for commissioners, which would enable them to be mutually supportive and understand the priorities of other departments.
Shackett and the commissioners also discussed a proposed review of the effectiveness of social service agencies which receive county funds to see which of them would should be funded and at what level.
She said that she had attended a Granite United Way meeting the previous day which the "collective impact" process was discussed and said there was a sense that when it came to funding ''everyone is competing instead of cooperating.''
She said the UNH Cooperative Extension Service is in the process of redefining itself and has offered to work with the county on ways to determine the effectiveness of social service agencies.