Friday, December 23, 2011

Allegany County Highway Bosses awarded $115,000

Allegany County Town Highway Superintendents Association President Kevin “Fred” Demick, along with Paul Miller of the Belmont Office of Suit-Kote Corporation, would like to announce the awarding of a $115,469 Grant by the Appalachian Regional Commission to fund the Highway Superintendents Associations ‘Municipal Technology Outreach Program’. In all, 35 of the 38 Town and Village Highway Departments in Allegany County chose to participate in addressing the communication shortfalls each has within the areas of radio, computer, and internet interoperability. 

Following extensive research, Highway Superintendents Association President Kevin Demick and Board Member Paul Miller made formal application during a presentation before the Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board in June of 2010. The rationale for the grant was broke down into four (4) different tasks:
1. Radio Equipment and Training
2. Computer Equipment and Training
3. Wireless Internet Access  
4. Association Website Enhancement
Higher levels of government (Federal, State, and County) have steadily moved their communications networks to high band frequencies. Due to the limited funds and budgeting constraints, town and village governments within Allegany County have maintained a low band communication system, there by putting a road block in communications between towns, villages and higher level areas of government.  In addition, not all highway officials have adequate computers or access to the internet. There is a need for town and village officials to become more computer literate for required record keeping and to access informational vendor, state, and federal websites. Wireless Internet service is just beginning in Allegany County and this grant will bring high speed internet to the Highway Departments. Finally, enhancement of the Highway Superintendent’s Association website will serve as the one source for public safety postings that will be updated regularly and available to the general public.
In the area of Radio Equipment and Training, members of the Allegany County Radio Upgrade committee, including Highway Association President Demick, determined that Town and Village Highway Departments should upgrade to the high-band system that the county is moving toward. This project will provide two (2) high-band radios for each of the 35 participating town and village highway departments in Allegany County. These radios will promote communication with the Allegany County Department of Public Works, Emergency Services personnel, Allegany County Transit, various School District buses, and allow communication with numerous agencies in surrounding counties. Simple monitoring of NYS DOT and law enforcement frequencies alone, will improve response when highway department assistance is needed. 
Two radios per municipality will be purchased allowing the Highway Superintendent to communicate on the high band frequency. A high band base unit for each Superintendents office and a mobile unit for their vehicle will provide one point sourcing for multi-level communications. Superintendents will still need to maintain low band communications in each department so that communications can continue with other municipal workers and equipment; and will relay necessary information to high band frequency users until each municipality can budget for additional high band radios.
Structured radio protocol training is included as part of this project and will be provided by personnel from the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office for all of the 35 highway departments as an in-kind contribution. Training will be developed cooperatively between the highway association and all county services with training to be held in the spring and fall to avoid the “busy seasons” of summer and winter.
The second component of the project is acquisition of contemporary portable laptop computers and computer training for the 35 participating municipalities. These laptops are designated to simplify scheduling of training sessions as computer labs are unavailable in this area and to allow Superintendents to take their laptop with them to job sites, meeting and other departments for easy data entry, rather than doing time consuming transfer of hand written notes and documents.
Angelica Town Highway Superintendent Kevin Demick and Paul Miller from Suit-Kote have already conducted approximately ten (10) computer trainings that specifically deal with highway department tasks, with town and village officials. Through this computer training, town and village highway officials will acquire skills in using the computer for improving record keeping, internet research/reporting, and developing forms used in daily record keeping that can be evaluated and distributed through the Highway Association’s website. These skills will be very beneficial as Superintendents will be more fiscally prepared for budgets and major projects, as well as, searching and reviewing grants and other funding sources, which all leads to better services for our taxpayers.
With the purchase of and training on new computers, the next item that this grant addresses is the need for wireless internet access. The Allegany County Wireless project funded through New York State has been establishing wireless access to the northern part of the County. The Municipal Technology Outreach Program will build upon the Allegany County Wireless project currently being implemented by Southern Tier West.  With the Appalachian Regional Commission grant, this wireless network can be expanded to reach areas not covered in the former project. The ability to deploy additional wireless access creates the necessary system to allow highway superintendents the ability to quickly lookup information over the internet. This wireless project will provide the necessary funding for the purchase of wireless supplies to serve the Towns of Amity, Friendship, Scio and portions of the Towns of Andover and Wellsville.  Southern Tier West, with its wireless partners, will also be able to launch wireless access to serve southern portions of Allegany County, which will provide high-speed internet connectivity to all participants in this project.    
With the new availability of high-speed wireless internet access, comes the need to update existing websites. The Allegany County Town Highway Superintendents Association will be hiring Southern Tier West as a sole provider to enhance and host the Association’s current website. The website supported by the Superintendents Association will be available to all superintendents to archive record keeping forms for download; provide links to vendor, state, and federal websites; and to be used as a one point source for reporting weather emergency road closings, accidents, requested emergency response to the E-911 Communications Center and Emergency Service incidents, as well as maintenance closings in all of the 35 municipalities. In addition the website will be available to the general public for reporting public safety concerns and will be updated regularly.  The Domain name for the website will be announced at a later date. 

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