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Buckhannon City Hall on Feb. 18, 2021.

City may lease space on tower in Deer Creek Ridge development to cut cellphone costs, enhance intranet

BUCKHANNON – A new tower that may be constructed atop the Deer Creek Ridge development could help the City of Buckhannon cut cellphone bill costs significantly.

At last week’s Buckhannon City Council meeting, city public works director Jerry Arnold reported that he had been contacted by landowner Virgil LaRosa, who is planning to build a tower at the height of the Deer Creek Ridge Development off the Stony Run Road. LaRosa wanted to know if the city would be interested in leasing space to place an antenna or antennas on the tower once it’s erected.

At its Feb. 18 meeting, council voted to write a letter of support stipulating that if the tower comes to fruition, that it is interested in leasing spaces on it.

Arnold and Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner explained that the city could not only place an antenna on the tower that would facilitate the use of radios for the Street and Waste departments, but that it would also strengthen the city’s intranet, or private internet network.

“There’s a possibility of a tower going up in the Deer Creek Ridge development, and if it’s built, we could have some equipment on there to help our radio reception into the Mud Lick facilities, which we now have two (the Waste Department and Street Department),” Skinner said.

Arnold said the city would have no hand in building or owning the tower.

“This benefits us by giving us a crucial link to our intranet and would also give us the ability to go back to using some of our company-type radios so that we could eliminate some of our cellphone usage and the cost associated with that with these radios,” Arnold told council. “If the tower is built, we would just need something from the city that says we would be interested in leasing space on that tower for a radio antenna and an antenna for the intranet – that’s really all this request is tonight, a letter saying that council would be interested if the tower is built.”

Skinner echoed Arnold’s comments saying, “This isn’t a support letter to build the tower, but this is a letter saying that if the tower is constructed, then we would like to have some of our equipment on there to improve our reception, and I would also like to clarify that Raven Rock is our provider, and this would be involving our intranet, not internet.”

An intranet is a closed network for a business or organization, while the internet is open to all.

Arnold said leasing space on the tower would also enable the city to shave its cellphone bill costs because police officers would have access to the City of Buckhannon’s private intranet network when on the road.

“This also eliminates the need [to use] cell data in police vehicles because they would have access to our private network and wouldn’t have to use cell data in cruisers,” Arnold said.

Councilman David Thomas inquired about the cost of leasing space on the tower, and Skinner said that amount was not yet known.

“We don’t know yet because the tower is not yet constructed,” the mayor replied. “It’s still a mythical feature.”

Councilwoman Mary Albaugh made a motion to write a letter saying the city was interested in leasing space on the tower if it’s constructed, and councilman CJ Rylands seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

Council members offered their well wishes to councilman Jack Reger, who is still recovering from COVID-19. City recorder Randy Sanders said Reger was on the line listening in to the meeting but was not allowed to talk to preserve oxygen reserves.

“Jack says he appreciates everyone’s thoughts and prayers, but we welcome Jack to this meeting, and he plans to hopefully participate in the next budget meeting,” Sanders said. “He’s a great guy, a great member of the community, and we miss him and need him back soon.”

Thomas said he hoped Reger is well enough to return soon.

“Come back soon, Jack,” he said. “We miss you.”

Prior to adjourning, council also:

  • Set a time to lay the levy for the fiscal year 2021-2022 budget at 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 20 at city hall.
  • Approved a Buckhannon Historic Landmarks Commission recommendation that historic information turnstile signage be installed at eye-level on the Upshur County Courthouse block and the Dairy Queen block.
  • Approved a Buckhannon Historic Landmarks Commission recommendation that it be permitted to begin developing design criteria suggestions for people who are renovating or constructing buildings in Buckhannon’s historic districts.

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