Relocation of emergency transmission equipment underway

A recent snowstorm damage the 911 tower near Tucker County High School

Local offices are in the process of moving radio systems from the now defunct 911 tower behind the high school to the tower in Centennial Park.

Due to the snowfall on Monday, October 30, a guy-wire broke on the upper portion of the 911 tower behind the high school.   The day after the storm someone at the school noticed the tower was leaning.

After representatives from Premier Construction inspected the tower, it was condemned, because it was too dangerous to repair.   The tower was totally dismantled by crane on November 14.

There was a number of radio systems hosted by the tower, including the National Weather Service, Tucker County Sheriff’s department, and Parsons Volunteer Fire Department.  Most importantly, the tower hosted the Office of 911 paging system that alerts emergency departments of an event.

According to Office of 911 Director Brett Ware, the paging system is the “primary means to alerting emergency services in the county.”  The paging system also serves as a backup radio for the sheriff and fire departments.

After the tower was condemned, a new antenna was expeditiously added to the tower in Centennial Park for the paging system.

According to an Office of 911 press release, “During the transition, the Tucker County Office of Emergency Management aided in providing emergency communications in the event of an outage of our Paging System.”

The West Virginia Department of Highways allowed the Office of 911 to use space in one of their buildings in the park at no cost.  “We’ve been working diligently with Department of Highways and the National Weather Service of Pittsburg to secure the location at Centennial Park,” Ware said.

The National Weather Service radio and the sheriff and fire systems are in the process of being relocated to the new tower, depending on frequency coordination.  When installing new systems it is essential to establish frequency coordination so that preexisting frequencies are not disturbed.

“We also have to collaborate with the radio quiet zone at Green Bank Observatory,” Ware said.  The tower is 100 feet higher than the high school, but the systems are reduced in output power in order to comply with the radio quiet zone.  Ware said that the elevation gain offsets the reduction in output power.

The total cost of the unexpected relocation was close to $5,000.  “Next on my agenda right now is working with the frequency coordinators to get all of the equipment relicensed,” Ware said.  “And to get the salvaged equipment back on line.”