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Completing Winneshiek County's system of 9-1-1 towers could cost over $4 million

Posted: Mon, Apr 1, 2019 3:07 PM
The new 911 tower west of Decorah

Winneshiek County recently spent $1.6 million to build a 300 foot tall tower off Highway 9 west of Decorah to improve coverage and reception for its 9-1-1 system.

On Monday County Emergency Management Director Sean Snyder and County Sheriff Dan Marx urged county supervisors to complete phase 2 and phase 3 of the 9-1-1 project--at a cost of over $4 million.

Snyder said the new tower has helped emergency government workers greatly, but there are still a number of places in Winneshiek County--especially along the Upper Iowa River--where signals don't reach and cellphone and handheld radios are useless.

Sheriff Marx told supervisors, "We're going to have to spend a lot more money or it isn't going to work."

Snyder told supervisors he would work on researching an answer to the toughest question--where will the funding for additional towers come from?  Right now, a surcharge on local phone bills is the only source of funding.  The money was used to pay for the new tower west of Decorah, but it will be another 8 years before that loan is paid off.

Snyder said he will do some research, then come back to talk with supervisors this summer about what he has learned.