Moultrie Observer

Local News

January 12, 2013

County moves to protect 911 tower from storms

MOULTRIE — Colquitt County’s 911 tower will get additional protection from lightning that has damaged equipment several times in the last year and a half.

The tower suffered a lightning strike in September 2011 that temporarily knocked all radio channels out of commission. The interruption occurred on a night when as many as 9,200 electricity customers were left without power and many were calling 911 for assistance.

The agency used hand-held radios to handle calls until the main system was restored.

In all there have been about three lightning strikes that have caused damage that has totaled in the thousands of dollars, 911 Director Teresa Warburg said. She said she did not have an exact tally of expenditures related to lightning strikes.

Colquitt County Commission approved this week an expenditure of $7,600 that will allow for grounding the 911 tower and equipment as well as the equipment tower building, all antennas and cables, generator and 911 building.

Warburg said that the tower initially was constructed with grounding protection, but apparently damage to the grounding grid and the addition of new equipment to the tower from other emergency services agencies have diminished that protection.

“A lot of stuff has been added since it first went up,” she said. “It (grounding) will start at the top of the tower down and so many feet around the tower and building.”

Commissioners unanimously approved the $7,600 contract with RCE of Valdosta, and Warburg said that she anticipates the work being completed before the end of February and the onset of the volatile spring storm season.

The expenditure will come from the 911 found and will not require additional money from the county’s general fund, officials said.

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