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Minutes lost due low transmission in Hawkins County

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Hawkins County (WJHL) -

There are three towers in Hawkins County to allow dispatch and emergency responders to communicate, Bays Mountain, Knobs and Clinch Mountain. Currently, Bays Mountain is not working.

"Not having Bays Mountain up and running 100% is a very large issue for Hawkins County," said Gary Murrell, Director of Emergency Management in Hawkins County.

With one tower down the signal has to be stretched.

"Officers or anyone in the upper end of the county are having to use the town of Knobs site, which is here in Rogersville," said Murrell. "It really pushes it to get communications back and forth to the upper end of the county.

The communication that is heard is filled with static. Hawkins County Chief Deputy Tony Allen said, "the lower end officers can not hear what the upper end officers are doing and the upper end officers can not hear what the lower end officers are doing and that is a major concern."

Hawkins County Deputies said they have to rely on the radio in their car, which has a higher wattage, but is also not very reliable.

"(Deputies) would have to keep driving around until the central dispatch could get a hold of him," said Allen, "that's minutes lost."

The community's safety is not the only thing at risk said Allen, "these officers lives are in danger, because they can't relay the information back to their central dispatch."

Hawkins County Deputies average 5,000 calls a month, so officials say the tower needs to be fixed ensuring every call is answered.

"They may need help and nobody knows they're needing help they may end up missing a call, they may not hear our dispatch trying to contact them or whatever," said Murrell.

Emergency Management is asking for the funding from the County Commission. It will be $8,600 to fix Bays Mountain and about $16,000 to fix the other two.

Their decision will come next Monday during a County Commission meeting. If Emergency Management gets 11 'okays' they can start their project (they have seven now).

Copyright 2013 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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