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Council members offer comments on issues

August 12, 2012

Kim Hoffman, a representative of the Bavarian Fall Fest, presents a list of requests for St. Marys City Council to approve for the event, which will be held Sept. 21-23. Photo by Amy Cherry.

During a recent St. Marys City Council, meeting several board members discussed their comments on numerous topics.
Councilman Greg Gebauer said he was surprised to see that the radio communications of the city's road crew are not compatible with other emergency response entities. Gebauer, a volunteer firefighter with the Crystal Fire Department, said all the emergency units utilize an ultra hi-band frequency, whereas the road crew remains on an old frequency system. He noted this poses a challenge to the city's police and fire departments, as the only way to reach road crew members is through their personal cell phones. Road crew members can reach one another, but no one else.
"I personally think this is something that could be looked into, progress them to operability," Gebauer said.
City Manager Dave Greene said new communication equipment is part of the city's five-year plan, as mentioned in the 2012 budget.
Councilman Gary Anderson stated during the recent torrential downpours and heavy winds, local entities, including West Penn Power, Windstream and Zito Media, all remained up and running.
Anderson said Verizon did a "terrible" job.
"We had intermittent or no cell phone service for the better part of two days. I don't know where their repair people came out of, but it appears there is no redundancy in the system," Anderson said, referencing Zito Media's two feeds which come into the area.
"In an era when a lot of people do not have landlines, cell phone service is very important. I really feel that the city and the emergency management should be pushing Verizon to get two feeds into the area so that a clipped fiber optic line does not knock several counties out of cell phone service for the best part of two days," he added.
Gebauer noted a cell phone outage would have caused issues for the road crew, as they communicate with other emergency service entities through them.
Greene said he would check with the county emergency services agency about the issue.
Bavarian Fall Fest Committee Member Kim Hoffman approached council with numerous requests for the event. A Fall Fest representative originally presented requests to council during a February 20 meeting; however, council directed them to return at a later date once event details were confirmed. The festival is taking place Sept. 21-23 in downtown St. Marys.

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