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Congressman Stearns to present $282,000 federal grant to County on Feb. 21 for public-safety radio system

RELEASE DATE: February 15, 2008

LADY LAKE — Lake County Commissioner Welton Cadwell and officials from the Lake County Department of Public Safety will accept $282,000 in federal funds from Congressman Cliff Stearns on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 1:30 p.m. at Lake County Fire Station No. 52, located at 306 W. Hermosa St., Lady Lake.

The grant check, to be accepted at a brief presentation, will assist with the County's effort to upgrade its public-safety radio system. Public safety agencies in the County — including the Sheriff's Office, County Fire Rescue Division and municipal police and fire departments —currently operate on an outdated communications system.

Without system redundancy and the ability to penetrate structures, the old radio system often leaves first responders without a reliable way to communicate with one another. A prime example of the system's faults occurred during the tornadoes of Feb. 2, 2007, when a tower was destroyed in the northeast region of the County leaving first responders with no communication lines. To remedy the situation, the Lake County Board of County Commissioners agreed in 2007 to fund the $35 million upgraded 800 MHz radio system.

The 800 MHz radio system, with the addition of 12 new towers to the existing six, will allow for the coordination of Lake County’s police, fire, emergency medical and other public safety services, especially in emergencies.

"The equipment compatibility and system design will allow for direct communications with many surrounding counties while seamlessly integrating the County into a regional and national network-- a goal of Florida and of the Department of Homeland Security," said Gary Kaiser, Lake County’s Public Safety Director. "As evidenced by the recent tornadoes that struck the County and hurricanes in previous years, an 800 MHz radio system will better equip our public safety personnel to respond and offer assistance to County residents."

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