Commissioner Bruce Castor was selected Thursday morning to chair a new ad hoc committee that will help select and design a replacement for the county's .
"The ability of our county's first responders to communicate is of the utmost importance and must be considered by this board carefully and deliberately," Board Chairman Josh Shapiro said.
Castor said he reached out to police chiefs, EMS departments, paid and volunteer firefighters, fire police, municipal governments, and other public safety officials while forming the committee. [A full committee roster is at the bottom of this article.]
"I wanted to put together a group of people who had stakes in the outcome of the project, who had different perspectives to bring to the group. I want to make sure there isn't anyone out there who had a vested interest in the project who didn't have a voice in it," Castor said.
The county has to meet a June deadline to submit plans to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for its use of new frequencies being made available to public safety entities in the 700 MHz spectrum. The cost to completely overhaul or replace the county's public safety radio system is expected to exceed $50 million.
"We're putting this on the front burner," Shapiro said.
New labor agreement for 132 county employees
The Board unanimously approved a new three-year labor agreement that covers 132 adult probation, juvenile probation, and domestic relations employees who belong to the American State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union. Among other concessions, the new agreement provides those employees with 2.5 percent wage increases in 2012 and 2013. Most county employees are slated for a 2 percent wage hike this year. No county employees have received raises for the past three years.
Shapiro described the agreement as an issue that had been "punted" by the previous county administration for at least the last two years.
"Neither party got everything they wanted," said county solicitor Raymond McGarry.
Notes: The Commissioners discussed the possibility of holding some spring and summer board meetings during the evening at alternate sites around the county. Leslie Richards mentioned the possibility of holding meetings at or near some of the county's historic sites.
"We want to make the county government more open and accessible," Shapiro said. The Board of Commissioners held an evening meeting at the Old Mill House in 2008.
The county exercised a $57,097 option to extend a contract with Prestige Packaging of West Point, Upper Gwynedd to provide paper towels and bathroom tissue for all county facilities through March 31, 2013.
"It's one-ply," joked Castor.
Shapiro announced the launch of the county government's new Twitter feed. Shapiro said the "MontcoPA" Twitter account was controlled by a Jenkintown resident who agreed to give it to the county after speaking with him.
The county would look into making Castor's available on the county's Facebook page, Shapiro said.
Ad Hoc Committee on Public Safety Communications
Michael Beaty, Chief, Whitemarsh Township Police Department
David Camarda, Fire Marshal, Whitpain Township
Bruce L. Castor, Jr., Montgomery County Commissioner, Committee Chair
John DiNolfi, Assistant Director Special Services, Montgomery County Public Safety
Patrick Doyle, Deputy Chief, Volunteer Medical Service Corps of Lower Merion
John Dwyer, Second Alarmers Rescue Squad
John Geib, Assistant Director for Operations, Montgomery County Public Safety
John Gross, Corporal, Springfield Police Department
William Kelly, Chief, Abington Township Police Department
Joseph Lawrence, Chief, Plymouth Township Police Department
Paul Leonard, Manager, Upper Dublin Township
Richard Lesniak, Director of Fire Services, Montgomery Township
Richard Lockhart, Battalion Chief, Norristown Fire Department Station 27
Richard Lohwasser, Assistant Director of Technical Services, Montgomery County Public Safety
Hayden Marriott, Chief, Skippack Fire Company Station 86
Thomas Medwid, Chief, Lower Salford Police Department
Dennis Orangers, Asst. Director Fire Rescue Communications, Montgomery County Public Safety Department
Ken Schauder, Chief, Bryn Athyn EMS
John Scholly, Chief, Lower Gwynedd Township Police Department
Bob Stanley, Inter County Investigations, Inc. (Chief, Hatfield Township Police, retired)
Tom Sullivan, Director, Montgomery County Public Safety
Michael Vest, 9-1-1 Program Manager, Montgomery County Public Safety
Clinton Wakefield, Washington Fire Company
George Wilmont, Chief, Flourtown Fire Company Station 6