Repairs are still underway in Starke County in the wake of this year’s storms in June and July. County IT Director Joe Short says one of the most important items they are working on repairing at the moment is the sheriff’s department’s radio tower, which was severely damaged during the storm.
Unfortunately, the tower is unable to be repaired because of the way it is built. Short says the county will need to purchase a new tower, as no tower companies are willing to make repairs to the structure.
“The reason it can’t be repaired as far as the current tower is that basically they look at that as one structural unit. So, once one part of that structural unit is damaged, no tower company will come in and do repairs to it,” Short said.
Fortunately, the county will be receiving $75,000 from insurance to get started on equipment repairs, but that doesn’t mean the old tower is going to be torn down and a new tower put up. Rather, Short says they need to find a whole new location for the tower to be established because new regulations have come into effect since the original tower’s construction.
Short says that for a tower of that height with the same number of antennas, the county would need to expand the base and foundation of the tower, but the current location cannot accommodate that expansion. As a result, Short says they are looking into potential locations for the construction of a tower, but the most well-advised location would be at the yet-to-be-determined site for the new county jail.
“That could be a potential site, would be the future jail. We could put it on that site, put up a temporary building, get it all set up with remote links, and that is one option,” Short said.
If county officials find a suitable location for the jail, the tower could be put up before construction of the jail even begins. If the tower were placed elsewhere, however, and the new jail is constructed and officials want the tower moved to the jail site, Short says that would cost a substantial amount.
“If we put up the new tower here, it would cost X amount of dollars, and from what I’ve gathered from talking to these different tower companies is for them to take it down and move it to a different location and put it back up, you’re basically looking at pretty much a wash of buying another new tower and putting it up,” Short said.
Short says that as of right now they are evaluating locations to place the new tower, but it all falls to the shoulders of the jail committee and other officials as they decide where the proposed jail could be built.