In a crisis such as a fire or shooting, all three Wellington schools will now be connected by digital radios.
The school board voted earlier this month to approve the purchase of 24 new handheld radios and two repeating units.
Vasu Communications of Avon will provide the new equipment for $13,033 after a number of radio dead spots within McCormick Middle School and Wellington High School became increasingly troublesome this school year.
Talks of the upgrades were prompted by an October evacuation of Wellington High School following a brief power outage in the building. Principal Tina Drake said she was unable to communicate with most of her staff during the evacuation and could not confirm whether all students were out of the building.
Interim superintendent Tom Tucker said that should not be a problem any longer and a seamless signal will now be opened between WHS, McCormick, and Westwood Elementary.
B&C Communications of Parma had also been in the running to provide the new gear. It presented a $17,000 handheld radio plan to the board in October.
By the time the board met in November, the cost of the B&C plan had grown to $24,000 but also included the cost of the repeating units.
“The board asked to have two proposals so that’s what we did,” said Tucker. “Both plans were for radio units and repeating towers but B&C was using Motorola units, which are a little pricier.”
“With cars you have Lexus and Toyota, but all the parts of a Lexus are from Toyota,” said schools treasurer Tina Gabler. “B&C were offering true Motorola radios but we’re still getting a product of Motorola.”
The Wellington Schools and village emergency response agencies have stated they would like to create a special channel for constant and instant communication in the future.
Wellington police, firefighters, and the South Lorain County Ambulance District continue to await approval of $230,000 in state grants that would allow them to upgrade their own analog communication equipment.
All three agencies have said the antiquated tools force them to go through a dispatcher when trying to communicate with the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office.
Police chief Tim Barfield said those limitations caused unnecessary confusion during the December 2015 melee and stabbing at Wellington’s Mosey Inn, while fire chief Mike Wetherbee outlined the danger of not having direct communication at large events such as the Lorain County Fair during a mock disaster drill at the fairgrounds in July.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise These analog handheld radios used in all three village schools will soon be replaced after the Wellington school board voted at its November meeting to purchase 24 new digital units from Vasu Communications for $13,033.