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home : news : north central illinois   June 24, 2016

1/29/2013 5:36:00 PM
City complies with mandate, resulting in new problem
Princeton department deals with radio communication problem

Princeton planning director Pete Nelson hopes to find more room in the budget to maintain the Prouty Building.
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Princeton planning director Pete Nelson hopes to find more room in the budget to maintain the Prouty Building.
Craig Sterrett
News Editor

PRINCETON — The Federal Communications Commission ordered city departments to use narrow-band frequencies for radio communications by Jan. 1 next year. Princeton Municipal Electric Department got set up this winter to continue to communicate while already meeting that requirement.

“We’re compliant; we just can’t talk to each other,” Princeton electric superintendent Jason Bird said after a budget planning meeting of city administrators, department heads and elected officials. “The radios worked perfectly fine before we made the switch.”

Bird said his workers are not only having trouble communicating when three miles or less from each other but also, recently, while at different ends of the same facility.

This fall, Bird — like all the other department heads — told the city council and city manager Jeff Clawson about purchases and costs he foresaw for the coming fiscal year, which begins in April. Monday he discussed the radio problem and expressed concerns that the law that was made and sounded good in theory might not be practical.

He said his people need to communicate, and he doesn’t want anyone to get hurt. If something isn’t changed the city may have the unforeseen cost of purchasing radios or installing repeaters, and he said even with a repeater at the power plant there’s static.
Mayor Keith Cain said he and Clawson would meet soon with U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Manteno Republican, and would discuss whether the mandate is unrealistic.

“The government is the one that did this mandated (stuff). There’s no way to resolve the problems right now from what I know,” Cain said.

He indicated there have been complaints from the hospital about the same sort of radio problems.

Police chief Tom Root said the special response team has some new digital radios for $800 to $900 apiece (plus another $800 to $900 for headsets, etc.) that are working. Such a purchase “might be cheaper than putting in a repeater every four blocks,” city commissioner Terry Madsen said.

Prouty Building
During the meeting about needs and wishes during the city budgeting process, planning director Pete Nelson said he would have a flat budget from this fiscal year to next.
He said he would ask for a boost in the spending plan for the Prouty Building, where some steps are crumbling and paint and draperies inside date back 20-30 years.

Ridership increase adds needs at Princeton depot
“We’re going to have to focus on the depot with the huge increase in ridership,” Nelson said.

He said more bathrooms are needed and accessibility issues need to be corrected. However, he said he wouldn’t want the city to invest in a change and then have Amtrak say the changes weren’t to the passenger-rail service’s specifications or needs. In addition, the city officials have identified a need for a better parking area between the depot and Darius Miller Park.

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