The county, in trying to solicit someone to take over the responsibility for the multi-site digital radio system, fell short again Tuesday as the one and only bid submitted was not opened sending the idea back to the drawing board.

The system has been experiencing problems since its installation over 10 years ago. Complaints of frequency issues in parts of the county have been many where emergency services agencies such as police, fire, and ambulance cannot get through to the 911 center.

It seems there was some misunderstanding at Tuesday’s fiscal court meeting about the process of seeking help. Some magistrates, along with the county attorney, thought a proposal was being sought instead of a bid, which was vague in its presentation.

“I thought it was to say a request for proposal but I was not in the line of it being passed around and I didn’t see it,” said county attorney Joe Ross.

According to Ross, the bid really should have been more of a proposal to allow those who submit the flexibility to think outside the box.

“I think we should rebid it as a request for a proposal because a bid does kinda put somebody down a path, whereas a proposal lets them think outside of the box and have multiple ways of fixing a problem,” said Ross.

Magistrate Barry Joe Wright informed the court Tuesday that Derek Wilson of Wilson Communications was there and had a few questions about the work being sought for the system.

“As far as what the county is looking for. As far as maintenance. As far as just the infrastructure itself, radio and repeaters, and 911, does that include all the radios in the county that are on the system? You need to be more specific. More of what you need to be worked on and need to be fixed,” said Wilson who has already looked at the county’s system along with sheriff Stephen Stephen Stratton and Emergency Communications Center director Ginger Lawrence.

“We went around and looked at everything but we didn’t have a clear understanding of what needed to be fixed or what the county wanted to do,” added Wilson.

Magistrate Wright told the News-Democrat & Leader he thinks the county will be able to work this out.

“The system just needs a little tune-up and a few updates,” said Wright. “We need to check some sites out. The system is still functional.”

Wright added he believed the county needed to put a repeater in the Adairville area to have better coverage in the south end of the county.

The system currently has repeater sites in Auburn, Lewisburg, and Russellville.

In 2010 when the system was installed, an option included the placement of a fourth repeater near Adairville but that was never done.

In 2009, the Joint Emergency Communications Operations Board (JECOB) made a plea to the fiscal court for a new radio system because the current analog system was overloaded and emergency services were having trouble getting through to the ECC. The fiscal court purchased the NexEdge digital radio system from Kenwood for over half-a-million dollars, unfortunately, the “getting through” problems continued.

Magistrate Thomas Bouldin said the way the bid was written currently he would not vote for it. He made a motion, which passed to table the issue.

Both Stratton and Lawrence were tasked to come up with an advertisement to be placed in the local newspaper seeking proposals for the maintenance and monitoring of the system.