06/28/10 — Tower fixed; security in place

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Tower fixed; security in place

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 28, 2010 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The county has repaired its new communications tower that was damaged earlier this month when someone stole copper wire and grounding bars from the structure.

"We have taken some security measures that are now in place and may prevent this from happening at any of the other sites," Fire Marshal Bryan Taylor said.

Additional security measures are planned as well, he said. Taylor did not provide any details, citing security concerns.

Taylor said he has not received the final repair cost, but he is expecting it will be between $1,500 to $2,000.

The tower is located off South Breazeale Avenue, and the thief or thieves scaled a six-foot fence topped with barbed wire to get to the copper wire and grounding bars worth about $500. That left the tower vulnerable to lightning strikes.

The theft was discovered by workers who were preparing to install more equipment at the tower.

It was the first known case of a county tower ever being vandalized for copper. However, Taylor said it has been known to happen at other towers.

No damage was done to the equipment inside the tower building.

Meanwhile, work is continuing on the towers at Seven Springs and Fremont, he said. The works should be completed within a month.

The microwave system should be in place by the July or mid-August, he said. The system is similar to what is used by cellular telephone companies to allow wireless communications, he said.

The new $9.7 million communications system is scheduled to become operational in November, Taylor said.

The county also is supplying mobile and portable radio units for all of the county's law enforcement, fire and rescue agencies.

Originally, county officials had talked about purchasing more than 1,500 radios. However, Taylor said only 988 had yet to be bought. The mobile units are the ones placed in vehicles, while the portables are carried by personnel.

"The county will not order any more," he said. "Some departments may order above and beyond what the county did."

The system will be financed over a 10-year period through a $9.7 million loan from RBC Centura at a 3.88 percent interest rate.