The Starke County Commissioners this week heard from IT Director Joe Short, who gave them a bit of bad news. The Sheriff’s Department’s radio tower was damaged by last month’s storms, and Short told the commissioners that no tower companies will make repairs to the tower. Once it’s damaged, Short says, the entire tower must be replaced.
This is a huge undertaking, as the tower would have to not only be completely rebuilt, but it would also have to be expanded. When the tower was originally built, regulations weren’t quite so strict, but now regulations require heavier-duty towers. The base would have to be expanded from its previous five-foot base to a 16-foot base. Short says they’ve received a few proposals and they’re still waiting to learn how much of the expense will be covered by insurance.
Short also discussed the upcoming switch of county radio equipment to narrowband systems, reminding the commissioners that the migration, which was ordered by the FCC in December 2004, must be complete by the end of this year. Unfortunately, because the radio tower has been damaged and is significantly shorter than it should be, Short recommended moving forward with narrowband licensing but holding off on the reprogramming of the radio equipment itself. Because narrowband systems have a shorter range, he recommended waiting until the new tower has been built before making the switch.