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February 1, 2010

Duane officials favor taller cell towers

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DUANE — A cell-phone tower at the Duane Fire Hall is caught in an Adirondack tall-tower quandary.

Verizon Wireless began working with the Duane Fire Company to engineer the project in 2007.

In March, the Adirondack Park Agency staff will bring a proposed 80-foot tower project to commissioners for review, but town and emergency officials say the tower is too short.

F. Gil Paddock, vice-president and second assistant chief of the Fire Company, which uses the site for emergency radio communication, says the 80-foot design will not deliver a signal far enough to the rugged travel corridors of routes 30 and Old County Route 99, which connect the Tri-Lakes region and Malone.

There have been four accidents — two critical in the past seven months — that left travelers stranded without rescue for 45 minutes or more, Paddock said.

"This really becomes an issue of public safety. On June 17, Kathy Ojida was driving to work at Sunmount about 4:30 a.m. and went off Long Pond curve behind some bushes."

Ojida broke vertebrae in her back, punctured a lung and ruptured her liver and spleen in the crash, Paddock, a first-responder, explained.

"She laid there for a long time looking at her cell phone — no (cell service) bars."

Ojida managed to maneuver her body around enough to blare on the horn until a passerby heard the noise, but it took more than 45 minutes.

"We had to cut the top off the car to extricate her," Paddock said.

Another accident on Route 30 at McCollums in December left a woman down an embankment and out of sight. The driver managed to get out of the car and climb up to the road, where she waited for 45 minutes in sub-zero weather until someone else drove by and saw her.

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