Tower to tower: Cleburne County seeks clearer signal for emergency responders
by Laura Camper
lcamper@annistonstar.com
Jun 10, 2013 | 2731 views |  0 comments | 150 150 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cleburne County officials want to change the radio tower it uses to communicate with Cleburne County emergency responders, the county administrator said Monday.

County Administrator Steve Swafford told the County Commission at its meeting on Monday that he and Sheriff Joe Jacks have decided to test the Oak Grove tower to see if it would work for the county’s emergency communications.

The county has been having trouble with interference with signals from the tower on Turkey Heaven Mountain that the Sheriff’s Department, the school system and the fire departments use now. The deputies have been carrying mobile phones as a backup because they can lose contact with dispatch in some areas, the sheriff has said.

After months of investigation, it’s still not clear exactly where the interference is coming from other than the metro Atlanta area, said County Administrator Steve Swafford. The location of the interference appears to change depending on the atmospheric conditions, he said.

The Oak Grove tower is currently used by the Cleburne County Emergency Medical Service and the county’s public works department. It also has a fire department repeater on it, Swafford said.

“People have always believed that the Turkey Heaven tower was the superior location because of its altitude,” Swafford said.

But with the Oak Grove tower there may be less possibility of interference, Swafford said.

“It’s a lower altitude,” Swafford said. “It’s more centrally located. It’s more shielded toward the east.”

The tests should begin sometime this month, Swafford said. Any costs associated with the tests would be paid out of the budget of the Sheriff's Department, Swafford said. The tests should take about a month, he added.

If it works, the county will petition the Federal Communications Commission to change its current license from the Turkey Heaven tower to the Oak Grove tower.

In other business the commissioners:

— Heard from representatives from the Cleburne County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association that the association is having difficulty getting any money for utilities from its fellow tenant at the old water authority building on Brockford Street. Celebrate Recovery, an addiction recovery service, has recently started using the building with permission from the Commission. The commissioners asked that the director of Celebrate Recovery attend their next meeting on June 24.

— Heard from Revenue Tax Commissioner Joyce Fuller that the assessment clerk in her office has announced her retirement. Fuller asked for permission to hire a new assessment clerk.

— Heard from Swafford that the county will receive a three-year, $300,000 grant to begin a program to prevent and clean up illegal tire dumps in the county.

— Heard from Melissia Wood, the county finance director, that she would be leaving for another opportunity. Wood, who has been with Cleburne County for nearly 10 years, will be leaving as of June 28.

Staff Writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.
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