New weather transmitter is planned

SCRANTON -- The Consolidated Telecom tower here is getting a new dual weather transmitter through a grant program. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with funding appropriated by Congress.

SCRANTON -- The Consolidated Telecom tower here is getting a new dual weather transmitter through a grant program. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with funding appropriated by Congress.

North Dakota is getting $54,767 of more than $415,000 in grants for Weather Radio Transmitters to extend coverage of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR)'s early warning system in the area, stated a recent press release.

According to the press release, funding for the grants comes from residual funds from grant projects that were completed under budget.

Bismarck NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist J.P. Martin has been working on getting funding to install a transmitter for the southwestern area of the state during the past four years.

"Scranton is one of the biggest sites we chose stretching from the southern part of Slope and Hettinger counties to the South Dakota border," Martin said. "Harding and Perkins counties will also benefit from this."


The 1,000 watt transmitter will be similar in range to the ones in Dickinson, Minot and Bismarck and will cover a 40-50 mile radius around Scranton, he added.

Martin is excited the transmitter will benefit both the Bismarck and Rapid City NWS offices, which was a deciding factor for a transmitter location.

"Also, part of the problem today is older transmitters which don't have backup generators on them. Requirements with these new sites include having a backup generator," Martin said. "If you have a battery powered NOAA radio the signal will be there even with electricity out."

County emergency management also can get access to the system through the NWS to transmit emergency disaster information.

"Consolidated got the grant money to purchase it. The NWS doesn't have participation in the purchasing process," Martin said. "Once installed, we run the programming and it's quite a process to get the transmitter delivered, installed and broadcasting in a test period which will be about a month."

The NWS wants to ensure the transmitter is fully operational by broadcasting it in a test period, he added.

"My hope is by June to get this going so it will be installed and operational for the severe weather in the upcoming season," Martin said. "We want to have a recognition ceremony at the transmitter site after it is installed so we can have the broadcast playing."

Consolidated officials adopted and accepted the grant's terms Monday after deliberating on the additional costs not covered by the grant.


"In order to get the grant we had to commit an in-kind donation of $53, 250," said Consolidated Chief Operating Officer Brian Person. "We are allowing the NWS to use the building and tower space for 15 years, rent free which included additional costs."

More was taken into consideration with the additional costs and some out-of-the pocket costs totaling around $4,000 more, he added.

"We also are looking at needing around $4,000 for travel expenses in training our technicians to install the transmitter and then pay for their labor," Person said.

Consolidated must have technicians who are certified and approved to install the transmitter by the NWS. The closest place to train the people is in Indiana. All this needed to be considered before the project was definitely a-go.

"Plus, over the four years of getting the grant the costs of materials, like copper, have changed," Person added about cost increase.

Grants for other transmitters were given to counties in Alaska, Nebraska, Virginia, Michigan and Tennessee.

"With the tragedy of the tornadoes hitting towns in Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama and Georgia recently, we have heard national broadcasters saying everyone should have a NOAA weather radio," United States Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said in the press release. "These seven grants to rural communities who do not have coverage from NOAA Weather Radio Transmitters will help save lives."

The NWR is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting 24 hours a day from National Weather Service (NWS) offices to alert people of approaching dangerous weather and other emergencies, including natural, environmental and public safety alerts.


Details of the grant recipients, projects or further information on rural development programs are available on USDA's web site at or at local USDA Rural Development offices.

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