Morgan City firefighters seek new radios from 911 grant


MORGAN CITY — The finance committee recommended Wednesday approving the fire department to participate in a federal grant of about $80,000 to buy new communication radios through a grant the St. Mary Parish 911 Communications District received.

The 911 communications center dispatches for all but two of the fire departments in the parish, Morgan City Fire Chief Morris Price said.

“This grant will take quite a while for them to close out,” Price said. The grant has been approved but “it’s a matter of when they initiate spending the funds,” Price said.

The communications center is updating its radios, so the Morgan City Fire Department also has to switch over to be able to communicate with the center, Price said.

The Morgan City Fire Department’s portion of the grant requires a 20 percent match from the city of about $16,000, Price said. The department will get 25 portable radios and eight radio units to install in the trucks, Price said. The radios will be 700 megahertz, he said. The city will then send a check for its portion of the grant, Price said.

The finance committee recommended allotting up to $30,000 out of the capital additions and contingencies fund to pay to repair a natural gas valve leak on Myrtle Street.

The city has to change out a 6-inch high pressure natural gas valve on Myrtle Street near Railroad Avenue that has been leaking for a few years, Morgan City Public Works Director Mike Loupe said. “That’s one of the main feeds that come in where the (Joseph Cefalu) steam plant is,” Loupe said. “We’re going to have to bypass it to change the valve out so they’re going to run a two-inch bypass (past the steam plant, which is) enough to give us what we need to continue running the city.”

SJB Group in Baton Rouge gave a cost estimate of $50,000 to replace the valve, Loupe said. “It’s possible that that can go down to $25,000 if we get everything prepped for them,” Loupe said.

The city plans to do prep work for the project, Loupe said. “What they’re going to come in and do is they’re going to actually have the certification … to come and tap into the 6-inch line,” Loupe said.

Loupe said the repair “has to take place” because the line has been leaking for a few years and is “getting progressively worse.”

The valve leak is located in a “very high traffic area,” Loupe said. The gas line runs down Railroad Avenue, Loupe said.

The engineering study is under way for the project, and the estimated time to complete work on the project is not yet known, Loupe said.

Loupe said the work needs to be done as soon as possible because the approaching winter will put a demand on the gas system. The city may be able to start the bidding process for the project as soon as next week, Loupe said.

The committee also authorized $2,500 in the fire department’s budget to be moved from training expenses to maintenance expenses to replace some air conditioner units.

Price said the fire department needs to replace some central air conditioner units, two large units in the training room, a small unit in the kitchen, and two units in the bedroom area.

The committee’s recommendations will be up for approval at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

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