Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

November 18, 2013

No tower leaves Elgood dark

ELGOOD — With the exception of a few population centers, Mercer County is a mostly rural county. As such, many parts of the county are somewhat behind the curve in terms of recent technological advancements to the telecommunications field. Given the region’s mountainous topography, it’s easy to understand why modern wireless communications present different challenges locally than they do on more level land.

Mercer County was on the verge of achieving full coverage for its wireless emergency services network earlier this year when a legislative audit scuttled the construction of an emergency communications tower in the Elgood area, and has sent local emergency services personnel back to the drawing board in search of new funding sources to complete the job. The Elgood tower will serve Elgood, Oakvale and Lovern in Mercer County, and will also serve portions of Monroe and Summers counties that are not currently connected with the Statewide Interoperability Radio Network, known as SIRN (pronounced siren).

“They were trying to finish building the tower, but the audit report brought everything to a standstill,” Bobby Hoge, director of the Mercer County 911 Center said. “Right now, we’re having to go back out and advertise for bids and start the process over again. If it all goes well, we’ll be right in the middle of the winter when we can start working on the project again. That’s if we can obtain funding for the project.”

The Elgood Tower project was on its way until September when a report by the Legislative Auditor ruled that the method being used to award the contracts to erect towers in the SIRN program circumvented the appropriate procedure for contracts of $25,000 and above. SIRN program administrators awarded several tower projects to a Jane Lew-based contractor, Premier Construction Group LLC, that was the apparent low bidder for a contract awarded to erect a tower in Lewis County. The audit found that the practice of “piggybacking” the Lewis County bid to apply to other towers did not comply with state bidding rules.

The federal funds for the project came from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009, along with additional State Lottery funds. Among the corrective recommendations that the legislative audit made was the suggestion that the State Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety assume direction of the SIRN program.

Lawrence Messina, spokesman for the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety said that the department “is mindful of the audit,” and is approaching each project accordingly. However, he said: “Were committed to completing it,” and added that the department is dedicated to helping the first responders who use the system. He said that the immediate challenge is “identifying the necessary funding” to complete the job.

Hoge said that the SIREN system enables the 911 Center located on Crumpecker Hill in Green Valley to communicate with units in the field. He said that the Elgood area “is still one of the dark spots” in the county.

“I’m working now to redo the contracts so I can send them out for bids and looking for funding, hopefully in the form of grants,” he said, adding that the federal funds that were being used prior to the audit are no longer available.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • new water treatment facility Officials break ground on new waste water facility

    Rain didn’t dampen enthusiasm Thursday when ground was broken for a wastewater plant that will double both the treatment capacity and opportunities for economic development in the Claypool Hill and Wardell communities.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Absentee voting lagging

    Absentee balloting is off to a slow start in a closely-watched Southwest Virginia Senate race that will determine which political party controls the General Assembly.  
    Three candidates are vying to succeed former lawmaker Phillip Puckett, who resigned in June. A special election is set for Aug. 19. The candidates are Republican A. Benton “Ben” Chafin Jr. Democrat D.M. “Mike” Hymes and independent Rick A. Mullins.

    July 25, 2014

  • Civil complaint filed against GM alleging defects caused local woman’s death

    The estate of a young Mercer County woman and her unborn child have filed a civil complaint in Mercer County Circuit Court alleging that a defective ignition switch in the woman’s 2005 Chevy Cobalt led to her death as well as the death of her unborn child.
    Keisha Dawn Vest, 26, of Princeton, the wife of Jason Vest, and mother of a (then) 3-year-old son, was driving to Mt. Airy, N.C., on May 2, 2006, when the brakes on her vehicle failed. Mrs. Vest was working in Mt. Airy as an MRI technician. Without brakes, Mrs. Vest lost control of her vehicle and entered an intersection into the path of a tractor-trailer. She died as a result of the injuries she received in the wreck.

    July 25, 2014

  • ‘Overwhelming:’ Area fans supporting Saints trip to West Virginia

    The community response to the New Orleans Saints’ three-week visit to The Greenbrier for training camp can be described best in one word that Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and Saints head coach Sean Payton all used Thursday when discussing the team’s first 24-plus hours in the Mountain State.
    “Overwhelming,” they all agreed.

    July 25, 2014

  • Police continue to search for suspects in local robberies

    Three robbery suspects remain at large in Mercer and Tazewell counties.

    July 25, 2014

  • Construction begins ... Ground broken on Tazewell County wastewater treatment plant

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Absentee balloting underway in closely watched 38th senatorial district contest

    July 24, 2014

  • Princeton man sues GM over wife’s crash death

    July 24, 2014

  • Press conference ... Son gets life for murders

     After pleading no contest in Tazewell County Circuit Court to charges of capitol murder-robbery, a Virginia man was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for the murder of his own parents.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Search continues for suspect impersonating a police officer

    The deputy who is leading the investigation into last weekend’s incident involving an individual who made a traffic stop while impersonating a police officer said she has stepped up the search, and hopes to have a sketch artist work with the victim to get a description.

    July 24, 2014

National and World
Newspaper Deivery Routes Available
Sister Newspapers' News
Facebook
Local News Videos