By Frank Lockwood

Staff writer

HERMISTON — Umatilla County holds the key to purchasing a $9 million bi-county radio system but has balked at turning the lock.

Six million dollars worth of radio systems has been sitting in warehouses for a month while a Umatilla County commissioner ponders discontinuing his lead role in purchasing the bi-county communications system. Requests for proposals that were due a month ago apparently went untended. Morrow County commissioners fretted and CSEPP and Oregon Emergency Management tried to speculate on what might happen next. Meanwhile, the project sits like a city slicker's buggy on Stage Gulch Road at flood stage.

Ironically, the project may be mired down by the weight of its own money. With some $7 million FEMA money already into the project now, it's too late to give the money back, emergency managers say. But with Umatilla County commissioner Dennis Doherty in seclusion concerning the matter, no amount of tugging and pulling by Morrow County has been able to budge the project. Making matters even more complex, Doherty has since come down with pneumonia.

Watch for a full story to appear in the Friday, May 23 issue of the Hermiston Herald.

Frank Lockwood may be reached at 567-6457 or by e-mail at flockwood@hermistonherald.com.

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