Brown County will use grant funds from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to replace aging dispatch equipment in the Law Enforcement Center.

County commissioners approved the expenditure of funds received in 2007 and 2008 to pay for approximately $107,000 in new gear.

“This will put Brown County close to an ‘advanced’ level,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Steve Adams said of the new communications equipment. “We’ve been setting at the ‘intermediate’ level for a while. We’ve got to move in this direction.”

Brent Bush, the county’s emergency management coordinator, said in answer to a question by County Judge Ray West that the equipment will be in line with how Homeland Security wants counties to function.

The proposal used $58,236 available from a 2007 Homeland Security appropriation and $50,852 from a 2008 appropriate.

“We have that money and it is yours to use,” Bush told commissioners. He said the 2007 funds must be used for appropriate purposes by Feb. 28, 2010, or they will be lost. The 2008 money must be used by January 2011.

“We certainly don’t want to lose that money,” West said before the vote.

Adams said that beginning this year, Homeland Security funding would come as a matching grant. Previously, all funds have been federal money.

While the county usually has been receiving approximately $50,000 a year from Homeland Security, representatives of the 19-county West Central Texas Council of Governments agreed to share their counties’ funds to allow Brown County to acquire a $160,000 communications trailer.

“It was a regional project,” Adams explained. “The other counties thought it was important for us to have that trailer because we’re the second largest county in the COG.”

Bush said the project would replace four communications consoles at the Law Enforcement Center and one at the Emergency Operations Center. The basic equipment is 15 years old, he said, and even though some upgrades were made eight or nine years ago, many replacement parts — like power supplies — cannot be found.

“If something goes wrong with one (console), they all go down,” Bush said. “The new consoles will stand alone. They all won’t go down at the same time.”

Adams said the bidding procedure is handled at the Council of Government level, and that the City of Brownwood has been involved in the process from the start.

“It all ties in,” Adams said.

In other business Monday, commissioners:

• Opened three bids received for roofing the county jail. Commissioners decided to take no action to accept or reject them, but West said possible action would be included on next Monday’s meeting agenda. Commissioners will review the bids to see if they conform to specifications, West said.

Bids received were from Prime Source Construction of Burleson, $346,800; Lydick-Hooks Roofing of Brownwood, $666,383 with a $39,085 alternate; and D.K. Haney of Fort Worth, $349,347 with an alternate of $42,125. The two bids from outside Brownwood were for a Duro-Last System roofing product, West said.

• Approved the appointment of Elizabeth Wells to the Brown County Child Welfare Board, at the request of Mechail Cox from the district attorney’s office. Wells is a previous member of the board.

• Approved an application to install a private line on County Road 226 in Precinct 1.