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County considering communications equipment

December 23, 2017

The Gage County Board of Supervisors is continuing discussions about how to handle a communications tower that has caused issues in recent years and has prompted the board to consider buying new equipment.

The tower has developed a “lean” due to windy conditions, and multiple tower companies have declined to perform maintenance on the tower near the ball fields in Blue Springs as a result of safety concerns.

On Wednesday, the County Board heard a proposal to purchase new repeaters and equipment that could potentially be installed elsewhere in the southern part of Gage County.

Doug Ostergard, sales manager at First Wireless Inc., discussed the tower during Monday’s committee meetings and brought a rough cost estimate to Wednesday’s regular meeting.

“There are repairs that need to be done to that tower, lighting and the antenna being misaligned, and that tower crews can’t climb it because of safety concerns,” he said. “I think we’ve gotten here because there’s some relatively minor repairs that need to be done, but there’s an unwillingness to climb a tower due to safety concerns.”

Ostergard said a new repeater and the corresponding equipment that would be installed in the dispatch center in Beatrice would cost approximately $27,000.

Mark Meints, interim Wymore Police Chief, said on Monday that the tower was built around 1970 and was last painted around eight years ago.

Wires on the tower are no longer covered, and he said the elements have taken a toll on it. The lights on the tower were also knocked out after it was struck by lightning.

The tower serves departments in the general southern part of the county, south of Highway 136.

If the tower is deemed unfit to use for communication equipment, installing equipment on an area water tower or leasing space on a cell tower are possible alternatives.

“We as a board are fully aware that tower is 40-plus years old, maybe pushing 50, and we’ve gotten a lot of good use out of it over the years,” said County Board Chairman Myron Dorn. “It served us well, but also, age is catching up with it.”

Ostergard said an existing tower in Odell would be the assumed location for the equipment if purchased, but a rural Wymore water tower is also an option if the tower in Blue Springs is abandoned.