Carbon County is helping 19 municipalities update their emergency radios thanks to a nearly $1 million gaming grant.

State Sens. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon/Monroe) and David Argall (R-Schuylkill/Carbon); as well as state Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) announced Wednesday evening that Carbon County has been named a recipient of $907,453 from the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Finance Authority's Local Share grants. This represents about 80 percent of the expected $1.4 million cost for new radio equipment required for the narrowbanding project.

"This essential state funding not only enhances the quality of our local emergency preparedness, but it also puts Carbon County on a level playing field with other counties around Pennsylvania," Yudichak said in the press release. "Any state funding dedicated to improving the overall safety and well-being of Pennsylvania residents is money well spent."

"Even in the midst of this difficult recession, public safety should never be jeopardized," Argall added. "These funds are vital for improving the safety and security of Carbon County residents."

The county will use this money to help cover the costs of purchasing 388 portable radios, 149 mobile radios, and 498 pages to upgrade county and municipal EMS, police, and fire department communication systems.

"The Carbon County Commissioners and on behalf of the local municipalities, thank Senators Yudichak and Argall and Rep. Heffley for their support," said Wayne Nothstein Carbon County Commissioner's chairman. "These funds will be used for the purchase of new radio equipment for the emergency services, saving the local municipalities, emergency services and taxpayers."

Carbon County has been working on this project with area municipalities since early last year when the county commissioners decided to help ease the burden of emergency personnel by applying for a countywide grant.

Officials met with municipalities about the Federal Communications Commission's narrowband mandate and discussed the financial burden it is going to cause municipalities since the equipment costs anywhere between $500 to $2,000 per item.

The FCC mandate states that all emergency personnel, fire and police must update their radios by Jan. 1, 2013. These radios must be able to use 12.5 kHz bandwidth. This is because there are not enough radio frequencies to handle all of the emergency traffic anymore.

In March 2011, the county held a meeting for all municipalities interested in partnering with Carbon to discuss applying for a $1.4 million grant through the Local Share Account.

The meeting, held at the county Emergency Management Agency in Nesquehoning, brought up questions about the types of radios needed, how many radios each municipality will need to replace, and what still needs to be gathered for the application.

The county then hired Delta Development Group Inc. of Mechanicsburg to handle filing the Local Share grant application.

Earlier this month, Nothstein announced that a meeting with the municipalities has been set for 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 31, in courtroom 1 in the courthouse, for the purpose of determining agreements for covering the remaining costs for the project and receiving a commitment on the number of radios each municipality will be purchasing.