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Weirton considers facility upgrades

WEIRTON — Audio-visual and security upgrades could soon be in the works for some city facilities, following Wednesday’s meeting of the Weirton Finance Committee.

During the meeting, officials recommended the purchase of several pieces of equipment for installation in the Weirton Municipal Building and the Millsop Community Center. The proposed purchases will go before Weirton Council for consideration Monday night.

Among the recommendations is a contract with Lauttamus Communications and Security for an access management system for the city building, at a cost of $34,090.

Brian Stewart, city IT director, explained the current system was arranged for by a previous city manager, with a company located in Mount Clare, W.Va. The company, he said, has been difficult to contact for maintenance, and the system has become limited.

“Everything is working, but we can’t add new employees,” Stewart said. “Lauttamus has proposed a new system for us. It would be an upgrade.”

The access management system is used to control access to the various areas and offices located within the municipal building. City Manager Joe DiBartolomeo noted each city employee is issued a fob device to grant them access to locked or restricted areas. Recent hires, including a group of new police officers, are unable to receive fobs because of the limitations under the current system, he said.

DiBartolomeo echoed Stewart’s comments about issues with the current security company, noting the city had been charged $3,000 just to have technicians come to Weirton, with costs for equipment and other services added later.

Contracting with Lauttamus, he said, would provide faster, local service in the event there is an issue.

Members of the committee agreed the updates are needed.

“That’s something that’s important for the employees and the citizens,” Ward 6 Councilman Enzo Fracasso said.

Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh asked if the contract would be reimbursable under the CARES Act funding. However, DiBartolomeo said he is unsure if it would qualify, adding the state is running out of funds for the COVID-related grant program. The city already has received more than $5 million in CARES Act funds.

Other proposed upgrades would allow the city to streamline its communication abilities, with the purchase of audio/video equipment to be installed in city council chambers, Conference Room 201 of the municipal building and the Weirton Room of the Millsop Community Center.

“It’s going to allow us to make the meetings online,” Kaleb Knowlton, program manager of the city’s Planning and Development Department, explained.

The cost of the project is set at $147,755.78, and would include acoustic studies of each room, along with labor costs.

“When COVID started, we had to scramble,” Stewart said, explaining the city has been using a 10-year-old laptop computer and a small web-camera to stream council meetings over Facebook.

Ward 7 Councilman Terry Weigel agreed improvements are needed, noting he had called in to some council meetings and had difficulty hearing the conversations. Residents also have made comments about having difficulty hearing the meetings, according to officials.

The committee also recommended a contract with Alpha Technologies for the purchase of two Smart Board 7086R Pro Series Interactive Displays, with software, at a cost of $19,400.

Stewart said one of the units will be used primarily in council chambers, with the other in Room 201 of the municipal building.

DiBartolomeo said he wants to be able to provide similar upgrades for all city departments, eventually.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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