County scales down radio tower plans

Staff writer

Marion County Commission went back to square one Monday for an emergency communications tower, approving an alternative design to be submitted to Marion planning and zoning officials.

“We still need a tower by the jail, that’s not going away,” Marion County Commission Dan Holub said. “We’ve been looking at other options.”

Sheriff Rob Craft and Communications Director Linda Klenda researched alternatives with TBS Communications.

“It would be 40-foot, which would be in their regulations,” Craft said.

Craft explained that the reduction from the original 92-foot tower comes from the use of a piece of equipment, called a combiner, that handles all 13 emergency channel signals for broadcast to the tower west of town.

“Instead of that spread of 13 antennas, it’s just one piece of equipment they all plug into and somehow it’s combined into one,” Craft said. The combiner eliminates the extra tower height necessary to install 13 separate antennas.

Holub said the $46,000 cost of the tower will be significantly less than other alternatives.

“We’re going to save money on the tower because it’s a little less than half of what we were looking at before, but the price of the combiner is going to drive the cost up somewhat, so we’re going to be spending about the same amount of money,” Holub said.

Craft said the tower won’t make a difference in the communications problems experienced in several areas of the county.

“From here to that tower (west of town) isn’t our communications issue. Our issue is from that tower out there to other locales sometimes,” Craft said. “Being able to get to Florence or Tampa, that’s not this piece that we’re dealing with here, that’s not this tower.”

Commissioners continued to express concern regarding uncertainties in the planning and zoning approval process.

“I’ve got a call in with Marty Frederickson with the city to get an answer to where that puts us in the zoning regulations,” Craft said.

“Since we’re going back to step A and hopefully we get through step C, through the city planning and zoning, I guess I’d like it written down,” commissioner Randy Dallke said. “I think we need to formally apply. We need to go right down to the city office and pay our fee so that some of the comments that have been floating around over the past situation do not start.”

“We already know what’s going to happen,” Holub said. “They haven’t changed their book, so what they couldn’t do before they can’t do now.”

Dallke said the contract with TBS should include a quality guarantee.

“If we take a written contract with this company, I’d like a 10 percent retainage for a guarantee for 30 days or 60 days after it’s complete that everything works as good as what we have today. I think that’s only good business,” Dallke said.

“I’m worried about time frame. Maybe on this 40-footer it wouldn’t take as long. I’m dead serious about going ahead and getting this ordered, getting it done,” Dallke said.

“I think we need to find out a delivery time and find out what our response is here from the city,” commissioner Roger Fleming said. “I would rather wait until we have permission to know that it’s going to be a go-ahead. It’s one of those things that we’ve got to have, but we have to have permission to do it.”

The commission approved the contract with TBS Communications for $45,957, and instructed Craft and Klenda to follow through on subsequent steps to apply for a conditional use permit from the city.

In other business:

  • Based on a recommendation from Greg Leslie of the Garland Company, commissioners decided to re-bid a contract for courthouse roof repairs. Leslie was retained to develop bid specifications and review proposals for compliance.
  • Amber Hancock was promoted to Appraiser II at a salary of $2,179 a month.
  • Jeff Bender and Garrett Clay of Foley Equipment Company outlined options for two road graders for which five-year balloon payments are due. Commissioners asked the pair to return Friday with cost estimates on extended warranties for the equipment, and deferred a decision on refinancing or purchase of the equipment until that time.
  • Two 5-minute executive sessions to discuss personnel and a 15-minute executive session to discuss acquisition of real property resulted in no action by the commission.

The next meeting of the commission is 9 a.m. Friday.

 

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