Better communication between emergency responders in Sullivan should be the result of a new communications tower approved by the Franklin County Commission on Tuesday.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the county highway department should gain substantially better communication abilities from the new tower, which is being leased from Fidelity Communications Co.

The county is leasing the tower for five years at a cost of $4,200 per year.

The current communication tower in the area is 40 feet high and located at the Sullivan Fire Department. The new tower will be 200 feet high, Vince Zagarri, the county’s 911 director, told the commissioners.

“All Franklin County departments will have access to that tower, including the sheriff’s office and highway department, to improve radio coverage in the southwest sector of the county,” Zagarri said. “It’s going to greatly improve the performance there.”

Zagarri said the lease “is the right thing to do,” adding, “We continue to look at these leases to improve the performance of the 911 network.”

Franklin County Commissioner Ann Schroeder said the tower upgrade represents an ongoing effort to improve communication abilities.

County Counselor Mark Vincent noted that even though it is a long-term lease that it is still subject to annual appropriations.

That means if the county does not have the revenue to support the agreement the lease ends.

The new tower will plug a major communication hole, and this is vital for the safety of deputies, said Don Jones, captain of field operations for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

County Commissioner Terry Wilson agreed that the tower is needed, saying the “dead spot” has been a problem since he served with emergency management in the 1980s.

“This will solve that very easily,” Wilson said.