Village and township address portable radio issue


MECHANICSBURG – In light of ongoing concerns over the signal strength of the Mechanicsburg Fire & EMS’ portable radio communication system, Village Council agreed Monday to purchase an antenna in hopes of remedying the situation.

Fire Chief Bob Keene said that on Oct. 8 he was among those responding to “the biggest incident the Mechanicsburg Fire Department has ever seen.” A wreck near the intersection of East U.S. Route 36 and Cambrian Road resulted in four patients airlifted and two others transported via squads. He said he was walking around with his two-way radio held high hoping to get a signal. He explained signal strength is low in that area of Union Township.

Keene added he experienced the same issue several weeks back during a vehicle accident just outside Mutual at the intersection of East state Route 29 and Harper Road in Union Township.

“We need a second repeater in Union Township,” he said. “A repeater is good for about eight to 10 miles to communicate with our portable radios. Once we get past that, we are spotty on coverage. With a second repeater, that would give us the extra miles to cover the extra area in the northwestern part of Union Township.”

Keene said the Union Township trustees tentatively approved purchasing a $10,000-plus repeater to gain signal strength.

In what he said would be a show of good faith on behalf of the village and fire department, Keene asked council to consider approving the purchase of a $3,000 antenna needed for the repeater. The antenna would be installed at the Union Township building on Harper Road, he added.

When asked whether the village had the funds to purchase the antenna, Fiscal Officer Dan Eck responded, “Given the issues we just heard about, we can find it.”

Following discussion on the matter, council agreed to sign off on the expense pending submission of a purchase order.

Sanitary sewer testing underway

Village Administrator April Huggins-Davis said the village has started smoke-testing sanitary sewer lines on the west side of the community in hopes of finding where rain water is infiltrating the lines, increasing the water flow at the sewer plant. Testing will continue throughout the week, weather permitting.

So far, she said, the testing has led to the discovery of a possible cracked line on West Race Street.

Huggins-Davis reminded residents the smoke is harmless, but the sight of it means an issue exists.

“If you do notice smoke (in the home), you need to call us because you have something hooked in illegally, and we need to find out what it is,” she said. “If everything is fine, you shouldn’t notice smoke at all.”

In other business:

•A demolition by neglect ordinance underwent a first reading.

“If someone decides they are not going to maintain their building and it falls into disrepair, we will have some teeth to dig into it to rectify the situation,” Mayor Greg Kimball said.

•Scrap Tire Disposal Day, held Oct. 15 at the Champaign County Fairgrounds in Urbana, resulted in the collection of over 3,500 tires, Huggins-Davis said.

“It was a success,” she added. “It did get rid of a ton of tires.”

•The village recently wrapped up its crack sealing program for the year by crack sealing East Race Street, Lynn Street, School Street, a strip down Walnut Street and all the manholes in the village, Huggins-Davis said.

•Amid the nationwide hysteria over people dressing up as clowns to scare others, Police Chief John Alexander addressed rumored clown sightings in the village.

“I would say to the public, if you see something, call us,” he said. “We will definitely come out and investigate it.”

Serious wreck sparks action

By Joshua Keeran

[email protected]

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.

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