County discusses new 911 radio towers

Published 9:31 am Wednesday, October 4, 2023

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The long-planned upgraded 911 radio system and towers are expected to significantly improve signals in the Hogansville area but coverage in Northwest Troup County remains sparse despite the improvements.

On Tuesday, the Troup County Board of Commissioners discussed planned upgrades to the countywide 911 system from the current P25 three-site multicast system to a five-site 10-channel simulcast system.

Troup 911 Director Shannan McLaughlin advised that changing all antennas to the Omni antennas for better coverage including the Hogansville area, which is on its own system but still connects with Troup. LaGrange and Troup are on the new shared radio system. West Point and Hogansville have chosen to run their own separate 911 systems.

The plans include three new tower sites in Oak Grove and on Roanoke Rd. The third site is still yet to be determined.

IT Director Alan Slaughenhaupt said the simulcast system will help with building penetration and coverage. Because the units can relay signals from all five sites simultaneously, terrain and building penetration are less of an issue.

Slaughenhaupt said the new system also works better when multiple calls are going out at the same time and the signals go out 360 degrees, which will help with Hogansville.

“in Hogansville, the tower is actually south of Hogansville and we had a 180-degree antenna broadcasting more south,” Slaughenhaupt said, “So it’s very low coverage and towards that direction.”

Slaughenhaupt said the FCC has gotten stricter and does not want counties to have towers in other counties or broadcasting across county lines. Because of this, the previous tower south of Hogansville had to be aimed south. With the 360-degree antennas,  the FCC gives more leniency ongoing across county lines going across county lines. He explained that was the reason they had to move the “Boy Scout Hill” tower out of Harris County into Troup County.

The area of northwest Troup County remains a coverage problem with significant dead zones. Slaughenhaupt said the problem is primarily due to the topography of the area.

County Manager Eric Mosley said they are in talks to tie into Harris County’s 911 tower system to improve the coverage in the area.

The new equipment is expected to be shipped in the first quarter of 2024 no later than March. 

Site prep can begin around December and the upgrade should be finished by the end of June.

Slaughenhaupt estimated that it should take less than an hour to conduct the transition.

The $5.3 million upgrade and new tower sites are being paid for in a split using SPLOST funds in an intergovernmental agreement between the City of LaGrange and Troup County.