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Balloon test to be repeated

Test will gauge impact of South County communications tower

one balloon misplaced previously

Test will gauge impact of South County communications tower

December 09, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Washington County officials have scheduled a repeat of the balloon test conducted last month to gauge the impact of a South County emergency communications tower because one of the balloons was not in the intended spot, county public works director Joseph Kroboth said Tuesday.

The new test will be conducted Friday, weather permitting, Kroboth said.

The previous test was conducted Nov. 20. The county hired a consultant to raise balloons to simulate the height of the proposed 190-foot tower at three potential sites off of Miller Avenue, near the base of Maryland Heights.

The county learned later that the consulting company floated one of the balloons about 500 feet away from the intended site, Kroboth said. That balloon was the one at the lowest altitude, closest to Valley Road, he said.

That site is the one the county expects will be least desirable, but officials decided to repeat the test in the interest of providing the most accurate photographs possible for citizens and park service officials to review before offering their feedback, Kroboth said.

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"We want the information to be accurate and to satisfy all the agencies," he said.

Friday's test will be conducted at the consulting company's expense, Kroboth said.

Officials expect the test to be conducted midmorning, said Pete Loewenheim, system project manager for the emergency communications project.

Unlike the first test, Friday's test will not utilize a crane, Loewenheim said.

The South County tower would be the last and southernmost in a 10-tower system the county is building as part of a public safety communications network that will enable all police, fire and rescue agencies in the county to communicate with each other during emergencies.

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