911 director presses county for tower

911 Director Chelsie Angleton told county commissioners she was concerned about communication problems with deputies. A new tower project has been put on hold because of its cost.



October 13, 2021 - 10:52 AM

Allen County Commissioner David Lee listens to a presentation. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Allen County’s 911 director urged commissioners to make a communications tower project more of a priority.

Chelsie Angleton told commissioners she covered two 12-hour dispatch shifts over the weekend, and was very concerned about communications problems with deputies.

“I lost track of the number of times I had to ask them to move to a different channel. I couldn’t hear what they were saying. It was all static,” she said.

It was a fairly busy weekend and though she described most of the calls as “routine,” at one point a deputy was involved in a scuffle with a suspect, she said. That call came through, but Angleton said she felt “very stressed” multiple times throughout the weekend. 

The situation likely is difficult for law enforcement as well, she said, who do not realize dispatchers cannot hear them.

Sheriff Bryan Murphy said weather conditions often play a role. Reception is worse for portable radio units, which officers must use when they exit a vehicle. 

Commissioners have previously discussed the need for improved communications towers but the cost has been prohibitive.

It would cost about $1 million to build a 500-foot tower at the landfill, which is essentially the center of the county.

Murphy and commissioners discussed the possibility of exploring other options, such as using a vehicle as a repeater for portable units. They also could explore shorter towers that may be more economical. 

LaHarpe Communications applied for a grant that would erect four smaller broadband towers in the four corners of the county, and would allow for radio towers to be installed on those same towers.

Angleton offered to submit an audio recording from some of the calls if it would help commissioners secure grants or some type of funding to speed construction of the tower.

It’s also possible the county could pay for the project using some of the $2.4 million available from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“The tower project is one we’ve talked about for awhile, and the biggest issue has been funding,” Commissioner Jerry Daniels said. “With the ARPA funds, I want to prioritize county projects and then address other requests and try to help as many as we can, but the tower project is one of my priorities.”

FOUR smaller communities can expect to get storm shelters in the next few months.

Commissioners unanimously approved spending $208,600 to buy three large storm shelters — one each in Petrolia, Mildred and Elsmore — and two smaller shelters for Savonburg (one on each side of the railroad tracks).