Palmer to Oversee Communication System Installation
WETHERSFIELD - Before former Assistant Town Manager Rae Ann Palmer retires officially, she has one last job in Wethersfield to finish.

       The Town Council voted unanimously to hire Palmer as project manager for the installation of a new $3.6 million emergency response radio system, courtesy of Harris Communications. The agreement with Palmer will cost the town $25,000.

       Palmer will oversee the installation of the new radio equipment, as well as the construction of new related infrastructure, and regularly update the Town Manager Jeff Bridges and members of the Public Safety Committee on progress. Duties also include making recommendations regarding the purchase of any new equipment that may be required throughout the process. The contract stipulates an average of 15 hours per week in this role.

       Coverage problems regarding Wethersfield’s current Motorola radio system caused communication cut-outs during police chases in parts of town and prompted the purchase of the Harris equipment last year. In addition to the $3.6 million cost, the Council put up $2.9 million for a 15-year warranty, which will mainly cover equipment replacement. These terms can be renegotiated or opted out of completely after a five-year period.

       The Motorola system, purchased in 2001 for between $3.5 and 4 million. To repair it required outdated and obsolete equipment that was difficult to replace when problems emerged because it is not widely produced anymore.

       What the town expects to get from Harris is an 800 Mega Hertz, multi-brained trunked controller, two high availability switches, transmitters at three sites, new radios for every police and fire vehicle, and new dispatch consoles, amongst other features. The system is also said to maintain its function in bad weather.

       Police and fire personnel will be able to get 96 percent guaranteed portable coverage indoors and 97 percent outdoors, Harris Area Sales Manager Ann Marie Stafford told councilors during meetings last year.

       Palmer could not be reached for comment.