08/10/14 — County settles radio system lawsuit

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County settles radio system lawsuit

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 10, 2014 1:50 AM


Wayne County will pay $289,138 to settle a breach of contract lawsuit filed by the company originally hired to build its new $10 million radio system -- a system that has been plagued by problems since its installation.

Commissioners earlier this year authorized Chairman Wayne Aycock and County Manager George Wood to negotiate a settlement to the lawsuit, which was brought by Communications International.

CI had sued the county for $393,175 plus interest. The county filed a counter complaint.

The negotiations saved $104,037.81, and the county now has someone other than CI performing the radio work, County Attorney Borden Parker told commissioners during their Tuesday meeting.

"So basically what you are telling us is that issue is behind us," Aycock said.

"Yes sir, and it was settled, in my opinion, very reasonably on the county's part," Parker said.

In the agreement, both parties agreed to release and dismiss claims against each other.

According to the settlement, CI and the county negotiated in good faith and agreed that neither party would malign or discredit the other.

To comply with the FCC's mandate to move to narrowband digital radio frequencies and equipment no later than January 2013, the county approved borrowing $9.7 million in September 2008.

The money was used to engineer and to install a digital public safety radio system designed to replace the nearly 40-year-old analog system.

The radio system is used by emergency responders, firefighters and law enforcement officers to communicate during emergency situations.

The county entered into a contract in 2009 with CI for the radio system as well as some additional purchases.

The price included two new towers and new radios for all of the county's fire departments, law enforcement offices and rescue units.

The switchover to the new system was made in the spring of 2011.

The problems began almost immediately.

The contractual dispute arose last December between CI and county after commissioners began talking with another radio company.

Last October, in what an attorney for the North Carolina Press Association called an improperly called closed session, commissioners met with consultant Bob Hamlin and officials with Radio Communications Co. of Cary, including owner Ken Brody and Randy Griffin.

Shortly thereafter, the county contracted with RCC to study the issues with the system and to correct them.

The company is continuing to work on the system. Its recommendations have included the addition of two additional radio towers.