Ridgenet Network Group provides IT services for Science Hill and surrounding areas. However, one service it provides that is often taken for granted is the work they do to detail and “restripe” emergency vehicles.
That’s exactly what they did to the police car that the Hopkins County Sheriff’s office has donated to the Letcher County Sheriff’s office.
“We were contacted by the Hopkins County Sheriff’s office. They had a car that they had taken out of service. Originally, the plan was for them to take that to auction,” explained Alex Wilson the co-owner and CFO of Ridgenet.
“They stripped all the equipment off of it to make it legal for sale. But then all the occurrences happened over in Eastern Kentucky, and the flooding came, and they were in dire need of vehicles. So Hopkins County said ‘hey we’ve got this vehicle. We’ve got some equipment. We’ll donate it to you.’”
Unfortunately, explained Wilson, the vehicle needed to be “restriped,” which is the process of removing the decals and other markings and replacing them with the preferred imagery. This is a time-consuming process and it requires specialized skill. Hopkins County could not find a place that could restripe the vehicle cheaply and safely in a timely manner.
They contacted Wilson who was more than willing to rise to the occasion.
“I told them ‘If you can bring it to us, we’ll get it right in right away.’ They brought the car to us on Tuesday, and we got started right away on it,” said Wilson. “We went in. Reinstalled all the equipment they provided. We did change out some of the equipment. Like the controller, the siren, speaker, and some other items that weren’t functioning properly. So we donated them some brand new equipment to put in there. That way the car would be in working order.”
The car itself was a Police Model of a Ford Utility. These cars are specially built to be used by law enforcement.
Ridgenet provides these services along with recalibrating vehicles.
“Most everyone around here knows us for what we started with which was Internet and phone service, which we still actively do today. A couple years ago we decided to branch off and do other services,” said Wilson. “The way that happened is our IT division started taking on government clients. That’s mainly our IT base.”
Wilson explained that Ridgenet began by installing two-way radios for police cars and found a need they could fill.
Wilson recounted, “I asked an agency one time, ‘Where do y’all go to get this done?’
“They said, ‘We drive an hour and a half away.’
“I said, ‘That’s crazy! There’s nobody else local that can do that?’
“They said ‘No.’”
From then on, Ridgenet has offered services to restripe and uplift firetrucks, ambulances, construction vehicles, and even Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.
“That’s probably one of the oddest or most unique vehicles we worked on – other than a hearse,” said Wilson.
Wilson, who doubles as a voluntary firefighter, shared how this gives him a unique understanding of how indispensable emergency equipment can be.
“It’s such a critical aspect of the community. A lot of people take it for granted. You call when you need them, and they’re there, but you don’t think about what it takes to keep all that going, all the money and time,” said Wilson. “I like to take care of local. We try to give back as much as we can. It’s a big thing for me.”