OMAK — Television and radio signals provided to the Okanogan Valley by Okanogan County TV District No. 1 should be restored soon after repairs are made to the main tower and antenna.
During a mid-January windstorm, the district “suffered a catastrophic collapse of its main tower and antenna,” said a district announcement. “The antenna carried other channels or signals that were shared to the district’s translator sites on Pickens Mountain, Mount Olive and Fox Mountain, in addition to being a relay for KSPS (public television) to Bridgeport and Chelan.”
The collapse severely impacted the TV district network and forced the board to examine the system’s overall condition and face some challenging decisions, the district said.
“It was determined that simply repairing the tower would not be adequate when the entire system is in decline,” said the announcement.
Several organizations were contacted and quickly responded with strong support by offering funding options and other services.
“Financial commitments have been received from Okanogan County, Washington state Department of Commerce Safe Start Funding, the Open Roads Alliance and the TV district reserve funds,” said the district. “Several Spokane TV stations — KSPS, KXLY, KHQ and KAYU — are cooperating with the district and assisting with the planning and implementation for the recovery and growth of the TV District No. 1 system.”
The short-term repair option is to move new antennas onto a pole tower to broadcast the Spokane channels.
New antennas and a six-channel combiner have been ordered from a vendor in Florida. The combiner allows the broadcast of signals through a signal antenna array.
“The antennas have been shipped,” said the district. “Their arrival is dependent on the road conditions following the recent severe storms in the south. The challenge of hauling and installing the equipment during the winter will be faced upon arrival.
“Upon installation the district should be able to establish broadcasting on a limited basis. The combiner is expected to arrive in two to four weeks, after being assembled and shipped from Florida.”
This summer, with easier access and improved weather at Omak Mountain, a larger and better tower will be installed, and the antenna array and combiner will be moved onto it to deliver a clearer signal broadcasting to a larger service area, said the district.
Along with planned upgrades at the three translator sites, the district will be able to deliver a higher quality and more reliable signal with a greater variety of channels to users.
The district serves the public with low-cost, over-the-air television, in addition to several radio stations.
“The board is committed to serving our community and are extremely grateful for the support received,” said the announcement. “Your continued patience is greatly appreciated.”
Board members are Victoria Velategui, Bill Black and George Thornton.