The Franklin County Commission has purchased property and a radio tower to expand the reach of radio communications for law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services in the southeastern portions of the county.
On Tuesday, the county commission approved the purchase of 120 acres of property and a 1,000 foot tower structure in Washington County for $108,000.
The purchase was made through the Washington County Sheriff’s sale held Oct. 1.
In May, the county planned to purchase only 40 acres of the property located outside Pea Ridge in Washington County at the cost of $40,000 from East Central Broadcasting.
East Central Broadcasting, LLC, is based in Washington. L.B. Eckelkamp III is the managing member.
Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker says the tower purchase has been in the works for quite some time and is a great opportunity for the county.
“We were mistaken that the entire parcel had to be sole as whole,” Brinekr said. “At the sheriff’s sale there was another bidder that run up the price, so the portion we need ended up costing us more.”
The county will sell off 80 acres of the property to the individual who originally brought the land purchase prospect to the county’s attention.
“We will sell the 80 acres for $60,000 leaving the cost for the county at $48,000,” Brinker said. “The radio tower will be centered in our remaining 40 acres.”
The property itself was less important than the 1,000-foot-tall antenna that is included in the purchase.
Brinker said the tower was once used for a radio station, but has not been used for that purpose for many years.
“We caught wind of the tower availability about a year ago,” Brinker said. “We approached the ownership group and told them the county would be interested in it.”
Brinker added there are no other structures on the property and although a few upgrades may be made to the tower there are no plans for any improvements on the rest of the property.
There is however an opportunity for the county to benefit financially from the tower ownership and it could pay for itself in a few years.
“We will more than likely solicit other entities to hang equipment on it,” Brinker said. “Other than that, we will leave the property as it is.”
Franklin County Emergency Management Agency Director Abe Cook echoed Brinker’s optimism and said the tower will need a few minor upgrades.
“It was last inspected in 2017, so we have that information,” Cook said. “We will have to do some maintenance on it, we just don’t know the full scope yet. The tower will probably need some new lighting and grounding.”
Cook added the time line for upgrades on the tower is still unknown because the new equipment will be part of the countywide simulcast radio system upgrades.
It also recently was discovered adding equipment to the tower will increase the communications abilities for the county highway department in that area as well.