Slatyfork Residents Oppose Proposed Tower On Sharps Knob

Marlinton, WV – West Virginia proposes to replace a 170 foot tall tower on Sharps Knob with one even taller at 240 feet. Slatyfork residents Gil Willis and Tom Shipley appeared before the Pocahontas County Commission Tuesday to oppose the new tower. Willis says the tower is unnecessary.

“It’s not really doing anything except creating another 70 feet” says Willis “and illuminating it at night – this is also the view shed from the whole western side of the resort. We’re going from nothing on our night landscape at that elevation to a red blinking light.”

That light may be required by Federal Aviation Administration because the proposed tower is over 200 feet, according to Chuck Niday, a private pilot for the last 18 years.

“Any tower that’s two hundred feet or taller, the FAA has to pass it’s grace on it” says Niday. “They have to determine whether it has to be lit up at night or not, if it constitutes a hazard to air navigation.”

“So, they’ll either have to put white strobe lights on it; or red flashing lights for night and have the tower painted white and International orange, or some combination of the two.”

Niday is also the Chief Engineer for Allegheny Mountain Radio and has over 30 years of experience working in land mobile communications with utilities and various state agencies in Virginia and West Virginia. He offers a possible explanation for the requested increase in height.

“It’s based on two different things – one they may be trying to use point to point microwave links from that site to connect into the state wide network and they need that height to have a clear path between Sharps Knob and whatever other site they have” says Niday. “The second is to get the kind of coverage they need for their UHF radio system because those frequencies behave more like light. They’re more line of sight than the frequencies the county uses presently. It needs the greater elevation to be able to cover the same area.”

Pocahontas County Emergency Services Director Melvin Martin says this is part of the state Interoperability project. Similar to projects in surrounding states, the goal is to make it easier for various state agencies to communicate with each other. But Martin says he opposes the project as the county can’t currently use the UHF frequencies because of the topography of the county. He says it could cost upwards of one million dollars to install the equipment needed to use the system.

The public comment period for the tower expires on August 13th. With this in mind, Commissioners Martin Saffer and David Fleming agreed to send a letter to the applicant on the proposal, Joe Gonzales with the West Virginia State Trauma and Emergency Medical System. Commissioner Reta Griffith was out of town Tuesday on official Commission business.

In other business, Roger Griffith and Jay Miller gave the Commission an update on the progress of the One Room University Project. Griffith, Dean of the Greenbrier Campus of New River Community and Technical College, says the idea of offering multiple simultaneous online classes is something they’ve never tried before and a bit of a technological challenge.

“We’re already developing a cadre of folks who will teach over this media” says Griffith. “It’s such a good idea – I’ve been talking with our technology person – that we’re going to try to pilot some classes this spring.”

If all goes as planned, the pilot project for the One Room University in Pocahontas will begin in the fall of 2011.

The Commission also approved two new hires – the full time employment of Robert Sharp for the Community Corrections Day Report Center and part time employment of Cindy Beverage in the Circuit Clerks office.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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