Clallam commissioners boost emergency satellite communications system

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners have authorized the expansion of a satellite communications network that will keep emergency responders in the loop when the power goes out.

Commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday to approve a contract amendment with Fall City-based Last Mile Networks to add state-of-the-art wireless equipment to the county's incident command vehicle, communications trailers and emergency operations center at the Clallam County Courthouse.

The wireless mesh network is funded by a $382,785 Port Security grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Clallam County received the grant to protect the Port of Port Angeles in the event of a shipwreck, oil spill or terrorist incident.

With the new technology, emergency responders will be able to communicate by satellite if the telephones and Internet go out, Emergency Management Program Coordinator Penelope Linterman said Monday.

Wind and solar generators will keep the network running without fuel.

The contract amendment adds $100,000 to the $275,000 that originally was earmarked for Last Mile Networks.

While the amount of the grant is unchanged, funding for the new equipment became available when county officials decided to shelve a project to build an armored van.

It was determined that the armored van did not meet the needs of the Sheriff's Office, officials said.

Funds distributed

In other board action, commissioners Tuesday distributed $286,178 in state funds to four certified chemical dependency treatment providers.

Funding for the contracts comes from the state Department of Social and Health Services' Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery.

The contracts run through June 2015.

They are $21,527 to 4 Directions Counseling and Consulting of Sequim, $102,993 to Reflections Counseling Services Group of Port Angeles, $86,662 to True Star Behavioral Health Services of Port Angeles and $74,996 to West End Outreach Services of Forks.

Clallam County Treatment Coordinator Judith Anderson said there has been a “pretty significant” decrease in state funding for chemical dependency treatment over the past six years.

“We have used Hargrove money to help fill in for the loss,” Anderson said, referring to a one-tenth-of-1 percent sales tax dedicated to low-income clients with drug addictions, brain disorders or both.

The Hargrove fund was named for its sponsor, state Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, whose 24th District includes the North Olympic Peninsula.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 12. 2014 8:09PM
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