By MIKE DONOGHUE
ISLANDER STAFF WRITER
GRAND ISLE -- The new communications cell tower at the Grand Isle County Sheriff’s Department is expected to be in operation by early January.
Sheriff Ray Allen said the 180-foot tower is in place and now AT&T needs to add the generator and the antennas to the cell tower.
“We are moving ahead. By the beginning of the year, we should be in operation,” Allen told The Islander on Monday.
The overall plan calls to expand and improve wireless broadband service for residents and travelers in the area, while also providing a major service upgrade for the sheriff’s department. The deputy sheriffs were looking for better phone service while patrolling the county in their cruisers, but also needed help with their mobile computers, Allen said.
AT&T is using the top tier of the 4-tier tower, Allen said. There is no word yet on possible rental of space for the other three tiers, he said.
A Caledonia County company teamed up with a New York contractor to help get the tower in place last Tuesday.
Workers from Classen’s Crane Service of Waterford used an enormous crane to lift sections of the tower. Project Manager Nick Spaziano of Schumaker Construction of New York took to the air to help guide them into place.
The Vermont Public Utility Commission granted approval this spring for New Cingular Wireless, doing business as AT&T Mobility, to install the communications tower at 10 Island Circle in Grand Isle.
Allen offered to host the cell tower after two earlier proposals by the utility last year for a 140-foot tower for separate lots on Lovers Lane in Grand Isle were not well received by local residents because of neighborhood concerns.
The new 180-foot monopole tower will have a 50-foot-by-50 foot fenced compound. The project includes an equipment cabinet, underground and overhead utilities and a backup generator. The pole will have 6 mounted panel antennas.
Allen said the cell tower also will be important for the region because the sheriff’s office is now serving as the new Emergency Operations Center should a disaster hit Grand Isle County.
Staff Photojournalist Rob Swanson contributed to this news report.