Stark County OKs tower bidThe Stark County Commission approved a $185,750 bid to Great Plains Towers Monday for a project designed to improve emergency communication and safety. The total for the new tower along with a new radio building is expected to be at least $250,000. About half of the funds will come from the county’s capital improvement fund.
The Stark County Commission approved a $185,750 bid to Great Plains Towers Monday for a project designed to improve emergency communication and safety. The total for the new tower along with a new radio building is expected to be at least $250,000. About half of the funds will come from the county’s capital improvement fund.
The bid is contingent upon an environmental impact study and a new tower may be erected in February.
Stark County Emergency Manager Brent Pringle said the existing communication tower, located northeast of Dickinson, is over 60 years old and is not structurally sound.
“We could certainly enhance it structurally by putting a bunch of money towards accomplishing that, but in the long run, we just need to replace it,” Pringle said. “I am surprised it’s lasted as long as it has.”
The age of the tower is affecting communication quality, he said.
“With the grounding not being done well and loose bolts, that creates a lot of … static noise within the radio that hopefully a new tower will be able to eliminate,” Pringle said.
The existing tower also does not have a safety cable for people who need to climb the tower, said Dwight Johnson, Vice President of Great Plains Towers.
“Of course without one you have no safety,” Johnson said.
The tower requires those who need to climb the tower to be continuously clipping and unclipping safety gear as they move up the tower, which is time consuming.
“In turn it costs the customer more money and the business having the ability to move up and down the tower more freely,” Johnson said. “This new tower will have that to bring it up to safety standards.”
Several agencies in Stark County, including the Sheriff’s Office, rural fire departments and school busses, rely on the tower for communications.
“I think the quality of the communications will increase greatly,” Pringle said.
If all goes as planned, communications shouldn’t be interrupted throughout the transition to the new tower.
“For the most part we’re going to have all new radios up there,” Pringle said. “So we’ll be able to put all the new stuff in place while the transition is being done and flip those on and make sure they’re all working and turn the old ones off.”
The new tower will be 330 feet tall — 30 feet taller than the existing tower — and may exceed the $250,000 estimated cost, Pringle said.
“We’re trying to put this tower up and make it right the first time so we don’t have to go back and do anything else,” Pringle said.
Half of the funding for the tower will come out of Stark County’s 911 fund, the other half out of the county’s capital improvement fund, said County Commissioner Duane “Bucky” Wolf.
Pringle applied for and was awarded $25,000 in grants to cover some costs, he added.
The comment period for the environmental assessment of the project ends Tuesday.
Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson is organizing information which needs to go into the study.
Dustin Maier, KL&J project engineer, said no comments have been submitted and he doesn’t expect to encounter any issues.
To submit comments about the project, contact the Federal Communications Commission at 1-877-480-320.