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330-foot cell tower considered

July 25, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

A 330-foot cell tower proposed along Interstate 70 is part of a state effort to improve public safety communications across Maryland, state officials said at a meeting Wednesday night.

The tower would also contain space at no charge for Washington County if the commissioners decided to upgrade the county's emergency communications system, said Ed Ryan, assistant director of telecommunications for the Maryland Department of Budget and Management.

The Department of Budget and Management has proposed the communications tower for the State Highway Administration's maintenance building at I-70 and Md. 65, near the Maryland State Police Hagerstown barrack.

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It would replace two smaller state towers located near the site.

The State Highway Administration held the public meeting at Washington County Technical High School to discuss the specifics of the tower.

"Our job is to protect the citizens of the state no matter where they are or what they're doing," Ryan said.

"They're really trying to build a strong system," Russell A. Yurek, the State Highway Administration's director of the office of maintenance, said after the meeting. "It's got to go from Ocean City to Oakland."

Ryan said the tower, and others like it throughout Maryland, would allow state agencies to improve communications by upgrading to higher transmitting frequencies.

Thomas H. Miller, director of communications for the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, said that in order to have higher frequencies, higher towers must be built.

Agencies that would use the tower include the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, Maryland State Police, Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

It's up to the State Highway Administration to approve the tower, Craig Fetzer, chief of communications for the State Highway Administration, said after the meeting.

If approved, the construction of the tower would start in September and be completed by the end of the year, Ryan said.

The Maryland Department of Management has also proposed a 180-foot public safety communications tower for Lamb's Knoll, the highest point of South Mountain.

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