New pagers for fire departments not included in millage funds

Fire departments in St. Joseph County appear to be on the hook for the cost of new pagers, despite claims that the items were to be included in a successful millage proposal to support central dispatch and its 9-1-1 service.

The matter was discussed during Wednesday’s county commission executive committee meeting.

Dan Wilkins, a Fabius Township Board trustee, sent a letter in advance to commissioners. Wilkins said central dispatch director Dennis Brandenburg had indicated prior to the May 2018 vote that if successful, the millage would replace all radio equipment at no cost to local agencies.

Park Township Supervisor Ed English and Park Township Trustee Mike Kinne took part in the meeting and further questioned Brandenburg about the issue.

Fabius and Park townships are partners in fire-protection services for their jurisdictions.

Brandenburg said pagers for the fire departments were never part of the project.

English, chair of the Fabius Park Fire Board, said he worked hard to help promote the merits of the May 2018 millage and was under the impression all radio equipment would be included in the funds should the one-quarter mill increase pass.

Brandenburg, however, said he advised fire chiefs as far back as 2015 that they would need to start allocating funds for new pagers.

Commissioners suggested townships consider working with county grant writer James Hissong and attempt to secure a grant in hopes of helping offset the cost of new pagers.

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