City 911 system getting grant-funded upgrade

Photo by Heather Bell
Dr. Noelle Bissell, the new Director of the New River Valley Health Department, speaks to city council members and the public at Monday’s council meeting about her new role heading up the health department.City 911 system getting grant-funded upgrade

The city’s 911 emergency system will be getting an upgrade thanks to grant funds approved by the Radford City Council at Monday’s meeting.

Radford is the recipient of a $350,000 Public Safety Access Point (PSAP) grant through the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA). The grant will be used to link the City of Radford and Pulaski County 911 systems, providing a back-up system in the event one of the localities experiences an emergency putting its system temporarily out of commission.

The upgrade “really makes it one virtual system” between Radford and Pulaski County, explained Radford police officer Chris Caldwell, who worked extensively to get the grant for the city.

Radford’s current 911 system is nine years old. The grant covers all equipment costs, first year maintenance and three years of fiber costs. After three years, the annual cost of the system will increase by $12,000.

Council also appropriated $10,000 to implement an E-ticket system for police summons, such as traffic violations and others. The system will import data digitally from the DMV rather than having officers manually fill out summons by hand. Not only will the switch improve officer safety by minimizing the amount of time an officer spends filling out a summons, Caldwell explained, but it also decreases possible data entry mistakes.

Monday’s meeting also included a split final vote on a right of way vacation ordinance that allows for the sale of 2.195 acres of public land along Tyler Avenue for $11,500. Councilmen Keith Marshall and Michael Turk voted against the ordinance, citing the selling price as a reason. The land appraised at $23,000 and council chose to continue a previous practice of selling public land at about half the appraised value.

“I’m speaking on behalf of the citizens of Radford – this is their land, this is their money,” said Marshall. “The value is just a little bit too low.”

Mayor Dr. Bruce Brown said the goal of the sale is to increase the city’s tax base.

“The whole intent is to get the land commercially developed,” said Brown.

Dr. Noelle Bissell, the new Director of the New River Valley Health Department, introduced herself to council members and the public at Monday’s meeting, saying she is looking forward to serving “community health” in her new role and taking a comprehensive approach to public health.

“In Southwest Virginia, we definitely have our challenges,” she said, citing a lower life expectancy, substance abuse, obesity and income challenges, among others. “Health is physical, social, emotional, mental and environmental well-being. Public health is community health.”

City council’s next meeting is set for Monday, Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.