April 30, 2013

Essex County radio work starting

ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County lawmakers tentatively agreed Monday to replace a weakened radio tower in Moriah and hire a firm to oversee the entire $17 million public-safety radio project about to get under way.

The County Board of Supervisors will take a final vote next Monday on those two segments of the project that will rebuild the county’s ailing and antiquated radio network into a modern digital system.

Construction is scheduled to start next week and continue to fall.

Pending full board approval, the radio tower on Belfry Mountain in Moriah would be taken out of service and a 180-foot-high Sabre tower erected by All State Tower of Henderson, Ky., at an adjacent site at a cost of $76,515.

The new tower site on Belfry will be owned by the county, as opposed to the present location, which is owned by Harris Communications.


An engineering survey showed the existing tower isn’t strong enough to support the new radio apparatus. The old tower, which is owned by the county, will be removed at a later date, Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish said.

At Monday’s Ways and Means session, Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) asked if the new tower will be disguised as a tree.

“Is this a Frankenpine?”

“That’s a regular tower,” County Manager Daniel Palmer responded. “It’s based on what was previously there.

“There are no Frankenpines in the system.”


The new radio system will use 17 sites to tie fire, police and emergency-medical personnel into the County 911 Center in Lewis. In most cases, existing towers will be used to host a county antenna representing one node in the network.

The board also voted to hire Federal Engineering of Fairfax, Va., for $138,000 as construction manager for the radio project.

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