Funding denied for new emergency response radios

By Jonathan Delozier -

A state grant has been denied that would have given a needed update to radio communications between emergency response departments in Wellington, Oberlin, and surrounding townships.

“You don’t really get a reason why. They just say you didn’t make it,” said Wellington police chief Tim Barfield in response to the bad news. “We’re trying to be proactive here. Maybe we’ll get it in another year or two.”

Analog radios used by firefighters in Wellington and Oberlin as well as the Wellington police department force communication with the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office and the Central Lorain County Ambulance District to go through a 911 dispatcher.

Joining those agencies in the grant application were Camden Township, Carlisle Township, and Rochester Township fire departments. The money comes from the Local Government Safety Capital Grant Program set up by the Ohio Development Services Agency.

Wellington was set to receive $105,550 to buy 19 radios and a dual band repeater with a $21,104 cost to the village. Oberlin would have gotten $104,320 for 27 radios and paid $20,864.

Police and fire departments in Wellington as well as the SLCAD were passed over last year the first time they applied for the grant, which would have supplied $228,343 worth of radio equipment with a $13,370 local share.

“I think we’ve outlined what the problems with this are,” said Barfield. “You have a whole lot of people reading paperwork and making a decision based on that. It’s not that they don’t care, they just don’t have the time to hear every story. All we can do is lay out our story to them the best we can.”

In December 2015, response to a melee and stabbing at Wellington’s Mosey Inn was complicated by police being unable to communicate directly with sheriff’s deputies.

Last summer, police officers, firefighters, and EMTs gathered at the Lorain County Fairgrounds to simulate a disaster scenario. Those who took part agreed the current radio communications setup could jeopardize safety in the event of a real emergency.

Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.

By Jonathan Delozier