Commissioners Opting To Move 911 Tower

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A deal that was offered to the Athens County Commissioners for renewal of a land lease for a 911 tower was rejected Tuesday by the commissioners.

The decision will mean that the search for a new site will continue, and that the county will face the cost of putting up a new tower.

The Messenger previously reported that Sam Grim of Haga Ridge Road had offered a five-year renewal of the lease the county has for his land where a 911 tower is located. In exchange, Grim asked that the county buy him a generator and woodburner. The commissioners weren't sure that would be legal, and wanted to check with the county prosecutor's office.

At the commissioners' meeting Tuesday, Commission President Lenny Eliason said it had been determined that the deal would be legal and he asked 911 Director Dan Pfeiffer how he wanted to proceed.

Pfeiffer recommended moving the tower to another location. The county has had a rocky relationship with Grim, and that was one of the reasons cited by Pfeiffer. He also said that putting up a new tower at a different location will allow the county to install a taller tower, and the existing tower can be moved to the Glouster area, resulting in the Glouster 911 site having a tower that is newer and taller.

The commissioners decided to follow Pfeiffer's recommendation.

The county has time available to find a new location. The current lease on the Haga Ridge site does not expire until 2016.

Pfeiffer has previously estimated that it will cost $160,000 to $200,000 to take down the Haga Ridge tower, restore Grim's property to its original condition and put up a new tower.

The Messenger asked Eliason why the county is going with the more expensive option, rather than just accepting Grim's deal.

Eliason said the deal Grim offered (which would have cost about $3,500) is more than the county pays for leasing other tower sites, and that moving the tower from Grim's property will result in a "less difficult situation." He pointed out that the replacement tower will be taller, and the Glouster-area 911 site will get a better tower.

"We have a chance to improve two sites with the investment," Eliason said.