ARTICLE: Radio District Gets Closer to Formation

East Oregonian 11/26/2009

Radio district gets closer to formation

By Samantha Bates The East Oregonian

The group seeking a unified radio district for Umatilla and Morrow Countys is taking another step toward its goal.

Umatilla County Board of Commissioners on Monday started the process to form the radio district by calling a public meeting. That meeting will be Dec. 28 at 10 a.m. in Room No. 114 in the Umatilla County Courthouse.

This starts the process to form the district, which will formally be called the Umatilla Morrow Radio and Data District. It is made up of both counties, but does not include the Umatilla Indian Reservation and Milton-Freewater. The district board will have five members elected at-large.

After the public meeting is complete, commissioners can officially form the district, said Doug Olsen, county attorney.

“We’ll get the district formed and then we will look at May for the ballot measure to approve the tax,” said Mike Roxbury, Umatilla Fire Department chief and chairman of the group which has been working to form the district for at least a year.

Voters will be asked to approve a tax of 17 cents per $1,000 assessed value and to elect board members.

The radio district will support the 450-megahertz system put in place by Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Advocates say it will allow emergency responders like police, fire and ambulance, to speak to one another throughout the coverage area. Advocates have also said it will work with the state system – known as the Oregon Wireless Interoperability Network, or OWIN – which aims to connect the Oregon State Police, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Oregon Department of Corrections and the Oregon Department of Forestry.