In February 2022, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell announced McLean County Fiscal Court would receive a $498,900 grant from the Delta Regional Authority to help construct a 300-foot broadband tower in Calhoun.
The tower is being erected behind the McLean County Health Department building off of Kentucky Highway 81 to help improve access to reliable broadband internet and emergency communications.
As of Monday, the tower looked to be on track to be finished before the end of 2023.
“Weather depending, like it’s been the case with other (county) projects, I think it should be completed by mid-to-late August,” said Judge-Executive Curtis Dame.
Construction on the tower is being completed by Mayfield-based telecommunications contractor World Tower Company, Inc. which entered a bid with the fiscal court for $762,263 in late 2022. Dame said funds from the American Rescue Plan Act will cover the remaining balance left after receiving the grant from the DRA.
Dame said the county received state approval to start building the tower on March 27 and the site preparation began on May 3.
Since then, Dame said the project has been seeing quick and steady progress.
“Since that time, (the crew’s) completed the concrete foundation, the piers for the tower itself,” Dame said Monday. “It’s going to have a 70-foot fenced compound around the site as well and it will have all the subsequent utilities and backup generator to make sure this facility operates even when the power goes out.”
Additionally, Dame said “some of the initial electrical work” and “tying in the backup generator” to the system has been completed.
The next steps, according to Dame, will include bringing in a large crane and installing an engineered shelter that will house all the communication equipment before crews begin to build the tower “in pieces and putting together the structure itself.”
“It’s going to go up quick,” Dame said. “They built the base and the support structure for the tower in about three days.”
Dame stressed the importance of getting the tower up-and-running as quickly as possible.
“The primary objective is to provide wireless internet capability, and I’ve been in talks with AT&T and other providers ... that provide wireless internet because Kenergy is building out its fiber-to-the home, but that doesn’t include KU (Kentucky Utilities Companies) customers,” he said. “With the beauty of the site, it’s right at the edge of KU territory where we can hit some of those houses that may be underserved in the meantime.”
Additionally, Dame said the tower will also provide “access to improve all of (the county’s) 911 communication component.”
“We’re gonna put new emergency management response repeaters for all of our different services (like) fire, EMS and law enforcement,” he said, “and it should give us the best coverage we’ve had up to date for emergency communication.
“... It’s a two-for-one project, truly.”
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