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Sheriff wonders what tower to use for radio dispatching

By Staff | Jun 9, 2008

Matt Dorfner

When the new Faribault County Law Enforcement Center (L.E.C.) opens in March of 2009, the radio dispatch center will be part of it.

The question is, what tower will be used for the radio signal equipment.

Faribault County Sheriff Mike Gormley was at last Tuesday’s county commissioners meeting to request they grant the state permission to build a 330 foot radio tower on the grounds of the new L.E.C.

The commissioners voted to grant permission. The problem is that Gormley does not know for sure the state will build a tower here.

“They have identified a dead spot in the western part of the county, as far as the new 800 mega-herz state system is concerned,” Gormley said. He has been told the state will be building a tower somewhere in this area to solve that problem.

If the state builds a new tower, Gormley said that the sheriff’s radio equipment could “piggyback” on the tower at no cost.

“That would be our preferred way to go,” Gormley told the board.

Currently the equipment is located on the old Blue Earth water tower. “The city has been gracious and allowed us to keep it there,” Gormley said. “But I know they want to take it down this year.”

Another option for the sheriff would be to move the equipment to the new water tower, which is closer to the new L.E.C.

“That would be our second best option,” Gormley said.

A third option might involve the KJLY radio station tower. Station manager Matt Dorfner was at the commissioners meeting and said he has been in contact with the state about renting them space on his tower for the new 800 mega-herz equipment.

“The question is whether our tower is strong enough to hold that equipment,” Dorfner said. Gormley questioned the ability for that tower to hold the sheriff’s radio equipment as well.

“We have a sense of urgency about this,” Gormley said, “Because we need to get a location pinpointed soon.”

The commissioners said that there appeared to be several options, but that they all hinged on what the state was going to do.

“They (the state) said they would have an answer for us in January,” Gormley said, “And now it is June and we have not heard yet. This causes a lot of anxiety.”

County Commissioner Tom Loveall stated that “the state is the lead horse on this, and free rent on a tower they would build is hard to beat.”

Gormley said he was trying to avoid a double move, from the old water tower to a new location, and then another move to a state tower.

“It is an ongoing process still, and we will keep you updated,” Gormley said.

A routine committee assignment sparked some controversy when Commissioner Loveall questioned the way assignments are divided up.

Commissioner Tom Warmka had asked to be put on a committee that deals with the new 800 mega-herz EMS radio system.

Loveall said that he and Warmka are on quite a few committees, and that Commissioners Butch Erichsrud and Barb Steier are on very few.

“I just think we need to balance these assignments out a bit better,” he said.

Warmka still was placed on the radio committee, and Erichsrud was later assigned to the South Central Community Based Initiative joint powers board.

In other business, the board heard a public works report from John McDonald.

He said that the DM&E railroad will be replacing the railroad crossing in Huntley in the next two weeks. They will also be putting new crossing arms and lights at the location.

“It will mean that we will have that east-west road closed for about one week,” McDonald said. Traffic will be detoured on the north-south road in Huntley.