From the Desk of J. Michael Cross County Executive

“A Modern Day Saga” or “How to Build a Tower”

     As many of you know, when the Fentress County Utility District budgeted to replace and enlarge the water tank in Clarkrange, the new tower was not engineered to handle our county’s emergency communications satellites nor our repeaters. We therefore began our search for a tower to serve E-911 and all our emergency communications needs.

     Through requests (begging) and a little luck, TEMA not only located a 180 ft. free standing tower, but disassembled it and transported it to Clarkrange for a whopping fee of $100.00. A great bargain, but now to get the tower erected. Through a collaborative effort with E911, we wrote SPECS and produced an RFP (Request For Proposal) and advertised for bidders. The few bids we received ranged from $80,000.00 to $96,000.00. The County Commission rejected all bids.

     We re-wrote our SPECS and advertised again, receiving bids that ranged from $68,000.00 to $81,000.00. Again “Rejected”. Now time to research. With the help of Richard Cross, “ROHN” Tower Specification Manuals, our handy computers and quizzing experienced tower experts, we CORRECTLY re-wrote SPECS for a third time.

     The low bid came in at $30,000.00. A tremendous savings to the county and our taxpayers. Vernon Engle of B & B Communications out of Hazard, Kentucky proved to be the low bid by an enormous amount. With the help of Scott Norris and the Fentress County Highway Department, we dug the holes for the legs of the tower. Richard Cross and myself took photos of the process from holes to rebar to concrete to completion. Vernon’s four-man team manually erected the tower one piece at a time. The completed 180 foot tower now stands ready to install our emergency communications equipment.

     We discovered, through several innocent mistakes, that the tower business is a complex undertaking. We also found that our ability to learn never ended at school. The tower project provided Richard and I with several advanced lessons in life, communication, reading specs and tower building.

     As a postscript, TEMA informed us just last week that they have found Fentress County another 180 ft. free standing tower in Murfreesboro. It’s FREE including the hardware. Now it’s just a matter of convincing EMA Director James Bilbrey to “Fetch” the tower home. Our preliminary plans are to locate this second tower in an area that will greatly increase the power and clarity of our emergency communications to the Pall Mall and West Fentress areas of the county.

     We can be reached at 879-7713. Executive Assistant Amanda Hicks can also be reached at ten.s1529321490ekalw1529321490t@skc1529321490ihadn1529321490ama1529321490.88 County Commission meetings are held every third Monday at 6:00 p.m. following a 5:00 o’clock work session. All meetings are open to the public.