New Warm Springs Mountain Radio Tower May Be Operational By Mid April
Warm Springs, VA – Work is underway to get a replacement communications tower constructed on Warm Springs Mountain. On February 13 the 100 foot tower on top of the mountain collapsed in high winds. The tower carried Bath County’s Emergency Services radio transmissions and WCHG’s broadcast signal. Bath County’s Emergency Services Coordinator Andy Seabolt has been very busy getting communications restored and organizing plans for a new tower.
“I appreciate the support of the public and the support of the county and the state government” says Seabolt. “This is a critical infrastructure for us, this tower, with the two way land mobile radio on it and WCHG. WCHG is half of our emergency alert system; the other half is the Code Red System, which is still working. But with WCHG down, it was really concerning, really scary.”
When the tower collapsed several emergency communication channels were down for about two to three hours. Seabolt got communications restored, but it’s not back to 100% yet.
“Emergency communications are working; we have a lot more dead spots than we used too, range isn’t quite as good” he says. “Where you really notice the biggest [difference], you really notice on the portable radios. The mobile radios, as long as the mobiles are in good shape and have a good antenna on them, then we’re able to communicate pretty well.” .the trucks.
WCHG was off the air for about a week. Until a new tower is in place WCHG will only reach about 75% of it’s previous coverage area.
“There’s a new 100 foot tower, it’s ordered and it should be here within the next three weeks” says Seabolt. “Excavation for the foundation is supposed to start Monday [March 14th] and then shortly thereafter the towers going to go up, including new cabling. The tower’s probably going to have two to three times capacity for wind loading and on top of that we just got two to three times the capacity for antennas, so we’re going back with a much heavier duty tower. That’s why there is a $24,000.00 shortfall estimated, because we are going back with a heavier tower; and the only insurance we had was just for direct replacement.”
Seabolt says the old tower was overloaded with too many antennas. Some of those antennas will be moved to another site and others were abandoned and had never been taken down. He says the new tower will only have about six antennas as opposed to at least 16 on the old tower.
“On top of that, the tower we bought is actually a 120 foot tower, but we didn’t buy the top 20 feet” says Seabolt. “So if we ever need to we can go back and add 20 feet to it and add more antennas on top of that. We’re really building for the future with this project.”
Seabolt estimates the new tower will be operational by mid April.