by Andrew Martin
The long awaited communications tower for the Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department is finally under construction. The tower, which is located in Hyde Park on Davis Hill near the Garfield crossroads, will be approximately 90 feet tall. Delays in the construction of the tower were caused first by the need to acquire the necessary permits and then later by legal issues between the landowners of the parcel, the Jones family, and the owner of the current tower on the site, H.A. Manosh.
According to Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux, work to the tower has officially commenced. Construction workers are currently building the foundations of not only the tower, but also the few small buildings that will be located within the tower’s fenced enclosure. Improvements to the roadway accessing the tower site have also been made.
Once it is complete, the new tower will hold communications equipment for a number of local emergency personnel and departments. Many of these departments already have communications equipment on the nearby tower owned by H.A. Manosh, but the new tower will feature new and better equipment that the older tower could not support.
“The new tower will be more appropriate for the amount of equipment we have,” Marcoux explained.
The new tower will also feature communications equipment for the Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) and will serve as a communication hub for all the local electric utilities.
“My understanding is that it will be a frequency shared by all or most of the local utilities,” Marcoux explained. He also added that his department will have a radio of its own to communicate with the utilities that will allow them to work together in emergencies or during dangerous situations.
Along with the ability to better hold heavier modern equipment, the new tower could also potentially increase the coverage area for the radios used by local emergency personnel.
“We think we may be able to gain some coverage,” Marcoux explained, “We should be able to reconfigure where our antennas are located.”
Marcoux did qualify that statement by adding that any additional coverage is still hypothetical and it will not be known if any new areas are receiving coverage until the new tower is operational.
According to Marcoux a large chunk of the funding for the tower will be provided by a grant of approximately $300,000 that the project has received from the Department of Homeland Security. Sheriff Marcoux had been awarded a similar grant for the project several years ago, but the deadline to use those funds passed while the project was still in the permitting stage. The rest of the project will be paid for using funds Sheriff Marcoux’s department has acquired or saved via other projects. Marcoux added that at this point the tower is tentatively scheduled to be completed and online by the end of August.
“We are just happy that we can come up with the necessary money so as not to cost the taxpayers a great deal,” Marcoux stated regarding the funding for the project.
“We are looking forward to having it built and then moving on,” he concluded.
Once the new communications tower is completed the current one on Davis Hill will be removed.