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Twin Cities Disagreement On Sharing BVWACS Costs

It’s been four years since the cities of Bryan and College Station joined five other jurisdictions to provide an area wide communications network.

Before the College Station city council approved its yearly contract to participate BVWACS, officially known as the Brazos Valley Wide Area Communications System, councilman James Benham said radios from Bryan’s water department and Texas A&M Transportation should be on the network.

Benham told the council “If you have a water main blow, and it takes a street out, you have to all be able to talk. So in a system when you only have one talk group, you simply just can’t coordinate them. And what ends up happening, is you end up on your cell phone calling the people that have the other radios and you just can’t bring them in on an emergency situation.”

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Bryan councilman Mike Southerland, who chairs the BVWACS governing body, disagrees. Southerland told WTAW News “The more people that are this BWWACS system, when something really happens, that creates a traffic block that reduces the ability of those emergency people to be able to communicate.”

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Benham, in his review to College Station councilmembers of the last BVWACS meeting, referred getting support from the Brenham fire chief. Then Benham said a Bryan councilman who Benham did not identify “openly questioned the voracity of the fire chief of Brenham’s statements, which I found interesting. They basically said that he didn’t know how to manage emergency situations and that the councilman knew more.”

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Southerland told WTAW News Benham’s comments were directed at him. Southerland said “Mr. Benham is coming from youth and inexperience, because I don’t think he’s ever been in an emergency situation where everything has gone awry like in combat (with) people shooting at you.” Southerland said he was involved in Army emergency communications for 22 years and was in charge of the evacuation center following a local chemical plant explosion.

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BVWACS also includes Brazos County, Washington County, the city of Brenham, and soon will add Grimes County.

Additional information from blog.cstx.gov:

Brazos Valley Wide Area Communications System: In 2013, The city council approved the first restatement of the inter-local agreement establishing the BVWACS and appointing the Brazos Valley Council of Governments (BVCOG) to act as the managing entity. In accordance with the ILA, proposed operating and capital equipment replacement reserve fund budgets for FY18 were reviewed and approved by the governing board on April 19. Each of the BVWACS Parties (Bryan, College Station, Brenham, Washington County, Brazos County, Texas A&M) has 30 days to review the proposed budgets. If any BVWACS Party does not agree with the proposed BVWACS budgets as presented, it must provide the governing board with a detailed explanation within 30 days. If approved tonight, funding for the city’s share of the BVWACS FY18 operating budget and capital equipment replacement reserve fund budget will be included in Information Technology’s FY18 operating budget.

Later, the council approved the BVWACS FY18 operating budget; authorized the city’s quarterly payments of $46,708.75 for an annual total not to exceed $186,834.97; approved the BVWACS FY18 Capital Equipment Replacement Reserve Fund Budget and payment of the city’s share not to exceed $100,923.69.

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Posted by on May 4 2017. Filed under Featured Stories, News.
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