BEATRICE – With county law officers frustrated over ongoing coverage gaps, it appears Gage County will be ending participation in a statewide radio system.
The board plans to consider approval in two weeks of a Motorola Turbo UHF digital radio system, which would match that used by surrounding counties and the City of Beatrice.

The system is estimated to cost no more than $275,000, less than half what the county spent several years ago when joining the statewide system. Chief Deputy Gage County Sheriff Doug Klaus said coverage gaps persist and the statewide system has not established a tower site nearby to help solve problems.
Klaus said the system being considered by the county is similar to that used by Saline and Jefferson Counties. Of special concern has been inability of deputies to communicate by radio outside their vehicles, or inside buildings.

Two board members, Dennis Byars and John Hill, were reluctant to commit to the new system today without more exact cost figures and equipment details.
Supervisor Matt Bauman said the statewide system just hasn’t met the county’s needs.

"We were one of the first people, outside of the state patrol, to use this. We couldn't stay on the old system because they went to narrow band and it created some problems. It just hasn't worked the best for us. It puts law enforcement at risk and the citizens that the law enforcement is helping", Bauman said.
Klaus says the recommendation to adopt the new system hasn’t come without numerous communications staff meetings and studies.

Doug Ostergard of First Wireless supplied cost quotes to the board on the various parts of the system, based on a state bid contract.
As for how to pay for the new system, Board Chairman Erich Tiemann says the county’s inheritance tax fund would be the most likely choice.