It’s been a couple months since a number of vicious storms tore through the area, causing massive amounts of damage and toppling several tall towers.
According to Starke County IT Director Joe Short, repairing the damage that was done to the Sheriff’s Department’s radio tower is currently one of their top priorities, but they’re running into some complications. Short explained that the city of Knox has a restriction on the maximum height of a tower in a residential area, limiting the tower to a height of 100 feet.
Unfortunately, Short says their damaged tower, which now stands at a height of only 80 feet, needs to be completely replaced because no tower companies are willing to make repairs to a damaged tower.
“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.
Short says he and EMA Director Ted Bombagetti will be meeting with several contacts to discuss the recommended height of the tower for optimal operation. He says they are currently looking at a replacement tower 160 feet tall, but the current location at the Sheriff’s Department is not suitable because of the residential tower height restriction.
Short explained that if the radio tower officials indicate that the tower needs to be over 100 feet tall, it’s not unlikely that the county would use a property outside of city limits to build the tower, along with the proposed new county jail facility, but the county may be able to use property within city limits if it can be rezoned. He says the two towers – the current tower at the Sheriff’s Department and the to-be-constructed new tower – would be connected using a remote link, which would require a direct line of sight.
Bombagetti and Short met with the tower experts yesterday and will discuss their findings with the Starke County Commissioners at their next meeting on Sept. 17.