Commissioners approve new contract for Dory Hill communications tower

Tower should be up by mid-October

By Lynn Volkens

  Gilpin County Commissioners, stating they were “between a rock and a hard place,” approved a new contract for the erection of a radio communications tower at the Justice Center on Dory Hill Road. In May, Commissioners had approved a contract to erect the tower at a total cost of $55,697. As it turned out, the contactor, Complete Wireless Technologies, couldn’t provide a stamped engineering design plan showing their tower would meet Gilpin’s wind load specifications for that price. Gilpin County Facilities Manager, Bill Paulman, would accept nothing less.

On Friday, August 23, 2013, Commissioners met in a special meeting and approved a new contract with a new contractor, Advanced Tower Services, and a new price, not to exceed $140,000. The Justice Center tower will tie into the system of towers on Squaw Mountain as well as towers in Black Hawk.

To comply with homeland security regulations, via the North Central All-Hazards Region (NCR), the tower must be operational by December, or Gilpin could face daily fines by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Friday, the day Commissioners met, was the drop-dead date to notify the NCR that Gilpin has a contract in place.

The contract with Advanced Tower Services calls for a steel tower to be erected adjacent to the Justice Center, with completion by mid-October. That schedule is based upon the tower provider, Sabre Industries of Sioux City, IA, being able to deliver a tower by September 30th. (Previous plans to recycle sections of a used tower obtained by the Sheriff’s Office have been scrapped.) Design plans show the tower dimensions as 13 feet from leg to leg, anchored in a base of concrete, and a tower height of 120 feet; no flashing red light at the top is required. While the tower is primarily for the purpose of handling law enforcement and emergency responder radio communications, the County has specified that the tower also accommodate two cellular arrays. That means this tower will have space for two cell phone service providers to add their equipment at a later date. There is no guarantee, however, that the cell phone providers will jump on board. That depends on their engineers, service base and where their other towers are located, Gilpin’s Communications Manager, Steve Watson, told Commissioners. The County can charge those providers to help offset the cost of building the tower.

Commissioner Buddy Schmalz said the County expects to get back “every penny,” of the deposit paid to Complete Wireless, approximately $22,000. They haven’t yet decided whether to pursue any other legal recourse against that contractor. The County had spent approximately three months going back and forth with them trying to get a stamped engineering design showing their tower could handle Gilpin’s winds. The delays brought the County right up to the edge of the federal mandate deadline, forcing Commissioners to approve a new contract in a hurry and at an unexpected increase in expense. Noting that expense, Commissioner Schmalz commented, “We have to believe this is an issue future Commissioners will not have to deal with – if we do it right.”

Following completion of all of the site work and tower preparation, Gilpinites should expect to see this tower rising toward the end of September.

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