ALBANY COUNTY – Albany County received $ 1,200,054 as part of the Statewide Interoperable Grants program to improve emergency communication systems.
County spokeswoman Mary Rozak told The Enterprise that information on how the money will be spent should come from the sheriff’s office, which did not respond to Enterprise’s investigation.
The statewide interoperable grants program has provided $ 472 million to municipalities since the end of 2011 and is funded by cellphone surcharge revenues, according to a state webpage for the program.
“Eligible counties can use the funding for a variety of functions,” the page says, “including improving emergency response for county, local and municipal public safety organizations, improving capacity, l Improving governance structures, operating procedures, infrastructure development and handling SAFECOM directives from the Office of Emergency Communications of the United States Department of Homeland Security.
Sheriff Craig Apple lobbied for more cell phone towers and better communications infrastructure in the county, especially in rural Hilltowns. He was behind the cell phone tower erected on top of U’Hai Mountain in Bern, which was controversial among some residents because of its visibility, but praised by first responders. He also had a tower placed in Rensselaerville at the top of Edwards Hill, which divided the community along similar lines.
These two towers have become the hosts of commercial mobile phone companies.