Encino Energy partners with Carroll County agencies to improve safety

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Encino Energy awarded a $20,000 grant to Carroll County 911 and the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) through their Community Partnership Program. Shown above (from left) are Scott Fairhurst and Ray Walker Jr. of Encino Energy; Carroll County Commissioner Bob Wirkner; Samantha Shafer, 911 coordinator; and Devin Herrington, deputy director of the EMA.

Two area entities will share a grant from Encino Energy through their Community Partnership Program.

The Carroll County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and Carroll County 911 will benefit from the $20,000 check presented recently in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the EMA building.

Devin Herrington, EMA deputy director, explained they will use their portion to upgrade the MARCS (Multi-Agency Radio Communication System) radios. The MARCS system provides statewide, secure, reliable public service wireless communication for public safety and first responders.

EMA Director Tom Cottis and Sheriff Dale Williams began the transition to MARCS in 2008. Both departments were 100 percent on MARCS at that time with each fire department receiving one MARCS radio. All fire departments were able to make the full transition to the MARCS system through funds secured via a State Fire Marshal grant.  However, MARCS require upgrades and some of the radios are too outdated to upgrade.

Herrington explained, all fire departments in the county, with the exception of one department, use MARCS radios.

Carroll County Commissioner Bob Wirkner explained serving one department requires the county to maintain the UHF tower. Commissioners own the tower but want to move away from UHF and have MARCS radios as the chosen system.

Carroll County 911 Coordinator Samantha Shafer said the 911 portion will go toward taking the 911 back-up system (Bay Station) to the next level. The back-up system was moved from the police station on 3rd St. SW, to the Dorothy Long Building on N. Lisbon St. The move was required because when the back-up was on 3rd St., it was too close to the Sheriff’s office and if there was an incident both systems could have gone down.

Shafer noted the back-up system is functional but needs updated to have the same capabilities as the main dispatch center. The funds will allow for the back-up center to mirror the main dispatch center in functionality.

“This (grant) is huge,” Shafer said. “Donations like this are huge to small agencies. It makes a huge difference.”

Also attending the grant presentation was Jackie Stewart, director, external affairs; Ray Walker Jr., Encino Energy COO; Scott Fairhurst, Encino Environmental Health and Safety Supervisor and Carroll County Commissioner Bob Wirkner.

Stewart noted, anyone wishing to apply for the Encino Community Partnership Program grant should begin the planning process now. They will accept applications in January 2023 to be sent to the review board.

“Encino works hand-in-hand to make projects work,” Stewart said. “We have invested over $1 million in hard funds and in-kind donations in the communities we operate in.”

Carroll County is in the core area of the Encino footprint.

“This is a partnership. We won’t fund the project entirely,” Stewart continued. “This (grant) is a perfect example of what this program is for.”

“They owe Tom (Cottis) a big thank you,” Stewart said, adding about partnering with the two entities, “They did their due diligence to get the project as far as it’s come.”

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