Technology has caught up with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which

will use about $67,000 to buy portable digital radios, commissioners

approved Monday.

The 19 requested radios, along with spare batteries, can be bought under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG). The county is not required to match any funds. The JAG grant was also approved by the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Advisory Board.

“It’s obviously good for the county,” said Sheriff Keith Merritt.
“There’s no matching grant, so we get all of it … this is something that all the agencies are going to have to start going to. It’s a new digital radio system … its kind of like what you see on TV where they’re making everyone go from analog to digital.”

There will be no changes to the 800 megahertz system, which is set up with the county and nearby cities to provide better communication and faster response times.

“It’s the range of the frequency that’s going through the air that they’re trying to change,” Merritt said. No word yet on when the new system would be in place, and there was no deadline for buying the radios, Merritt said.

In other business Monday, County Health Inspector Joel Ardoin reported that some long-awaited water / sewer grants were on their way. County grant writer Don Anderson authored the grants for more than $700,000. Grant funds could be used two ways, Ardoin said – to improve facilities on-site when water and sewer hookups are not available; and to help individuals tie-in to existing water / sewer systems. Judge Carl Thibodeaux called it “very important” for the county. An estimated 120 homes would be affected, Anderson said.

No no action was taken on a burn ban item, however, Thibodeaux warned residents to use caution when burning during strong winds and gusts.

“It’s been pretty windy out there the last couple of days,” he said. “These high winds with low humidity can dry the moisture rather quickly – even with all the rain we’ve had.”

Also Monday:

• No action was taken on changing the speed limit to 20 mph on Randall Road, Colony Lane and Colony Drive. County Engineer Les Anderson, who had placed the item on the agenda, asked that it not be considered.

• Johnny Ross, assistant superintendent for the Vidor school district, asked commissioners to support community learning grants being applied for by the district. The grants would be $200,000 a year for five years, he said. Thibodeaux said a resolution would be forthcoming.