By Dave Marner, Managing Editor
Gasconade County’s emergency 911 operations will transmit from a tower the agency is having built beside its Rosebud dispatching center after directors learned in June of a 450-percent increase in rental fees for placing antennas on a leased tower.
E-911 board members opted to budget $55,000 for the project after being informed by North Carolina-based CTI that rent would increase from $200 a month to $1,100 monthly. Lisa Clark, director of the county’s 911 system, said the county’s 911 antennas had been mounted on a 160-foot tower in Owensville beside the Fidelity Communications office, space the agency rented for the past 15 years. E-911 also had space inside the Fidelity building for radios.
“Fidelity was great to work with and kept the rent at a reasonable price,” Clark noted in an email.
This increase was not in the county agency’s 2020 budget.
“In June, we received a letter from CTI out of North Carolina. The letter stated that we installed equipment on CTI’s tower without a lease in place and that we have 30 days to either enter into a lease, remove the equipment or be evicted,” Clark reported. “Since 911 was never notified of the sale of the tower and was still being billed from Fidelity for tower rent, we had many questions about the validity of the letter and actual ownership.”
Clark said a representative of CTI “emailed and called consistently trying to get a contract signed with 911 that would increase our tower rent by 450 percent, going as far as to say ‘we will take down your antennas.’ As good custodians of tax money, the Gasconade County E-911 Board of Directors argued that this was extreme for our area and unbudgeted for 2020. Meanwhile, we are still being billed by Fidelity for tower rent.”
Clark said board members and staff researched available tower space in the area and costs of moving antennas before deciding the “best course of action for our constituents concerning both cost and service would be to build our own tower.”
Clark said the proposed tower, which will be erected beside the E-911 center in Rosebud, will have space for 10 attachments.
“The new tower will allow 911 to provide the best possible service, while also securing the long term viability of the 911 center,” she said.
Being located next to the 911 center will also allow radio equipment to be housed in a temperature controlled environment near the tower, alleviate monthly radio loop costs that connected radios from the Fidelity building to the 911 center in Rosebud, and allow for immediate emergency access to the tower and radio equipment in case of failure.
Clark said she met with city of Rosebud officials and obtained an application for a building permit. She said the city’s mayor, Shanon Grus, had offered the use of the city’s water tower at no cost for antenna placement but there was not enough space for the agency’s needs.
“Understandably, when a new tower of this height is erected, it will be noticed,” said Clark. “We are grateful for Rosebud’s support of the 911 center. It is a great community and we hope that the residents will recognize the importance of the tower’s benefit to the community at large.”
E-911 is buying the metal for the tower direct from a supplier. To date, the E-911 directors have authorized payments of $5,328 of the $13,320 cost for the tower.
Soil samples and a geotechnical study of the site where the tower will be constructed cost $3,500. The foundation for the structure will be constructed based on an engineered design at an estimated cost of $16,000. The remaining $21,280 in the project’s budget will go toward erecting the tower, coaxial wiring, and antenna attachments.