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Council gives station deadline to fix transmission problems

July 12, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

HANCOCK - A radio transmission tower that has been a lightning rod for controversy in Hancock this year was discussed again Wednesday night during the Hancock town council meeting.

Two residents spoke out against the radio transmission tower on Baptist Road, which has been operating since April.

Valerie Repsher and Mac Elser said the tower interferes with the reception of other radio stations and Elser's cell phone.

Resident Marion Thomas, part of the nonprofit organization Splendor of Trust Radio Inc., requested special permission from the council in January to erect the 40-foot "flagpole-like structure." The radio tower is a low-power transmitting station that transmits WDTF out of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., Thomas has said.

The station format is primarily Catholic talk.

Elser provided a copy of a portion of the FCC Code of Federal Regulations to the mayor, council and media during the citizen's comments portion of Wednesday's meeting. The radio station violates two portions of the FCC's code, he said. Elser cited a portion of the code that states a FM translator or booster station may not operate if it causes any actual interference to any authorized broadcast station.

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"It appears we are in a violation," Mayor Daniel A. Murphy said.

Thomas said Wednesday that an electronics engineer directed her to gather data about the transmission problems. The engineer planned to look at the problem by the end of July, she said.

Elser asked that the mayor and council request the radio tower be turned off.

Councilman Tim Smith said the council should give Thomas a deadline for fixing the transmission problem.

"People should be able to pick up stations they want to pick up," he said.

Murphy and the town council asked Thomas to have an engineer fix the transmission problem by Friday, July 20.

Murphy said after the meeting that he and the council would probably consult attorneys about what the town could legally do about the transmission problem.

Town Manager David Smith said he filed an electronic complaint about the tower with the FCC.

"It's a matter of doing what's right for everybody else," he said.

Elser also charged that Splendor of Trust Radio, Inc. didn't live up to promises the group made when it requested permission for the tower. The group promised it would plant shrubbery, paint the area and build a fence to keep children from climbing the tower.

The building has not been painted and a fence was erected only after he wrote a letter of complaint that appeared in Wednesday's edition of Hancock News, Elser said.

Thomas said the group had bought paint and intended to build a fence, but the group relies on volunteer labor and had disagreements about what type of fence to build, she said.

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