The Marshall County Emergency Telephone Service Board, also known as the 911 Board, will soon begin construction on a new radio tower after receiving approval from the Marshall County Commission.

At the commission meeting Wednesday, Nov. 13, 911 Board Executive Director Johnny Hart presented the plans for a new tower on property owned by Marshall County Gas on Wyeth Mountain. The new tower would be approximately 299-feet tall; nearly 120 feet taller than the tower currently in place on the property. The extra height would allow for better coverage and clarity, especially in the valley area of Marshall County, which Hart says has had dead spots in the past. While it won’t eliminate all dead spots, it will cover 95% of the county, Hart said.

“I got 18 volunteer agencies in this county, I got to make sure they can talk to me like anybody else,” he said. “That’s our concern at 911.”

The current 180-foot tower is also used by Marshall County EMA and the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office to communicate via radio and transmit information among agencies. Once built, the county will have the opportunity to move their equipment from the current tower to the new one.

While Sheriff Phil Sims said he’d like to move the equipment over and decommission the old tower, EMA Director Anita McBurnett expressed some concerns with interference.

“I think the tower is much needed in this county …,” she said. “We need this tower, desperately. My only concern and issue is moving current equipment over to the 911 tower …”

Hart said the extra height on the new tower would preclude any chance of interference with equipment on the current tower, should the county choose to leave it where it is. However, McBurnett said they’ve had issues in the past with third-party contractors working on the tower without her knowledge and causing interference with the EMA’s equipment.

Hart said he has spoken with other counties and agencies with equipment on the tower and told them they must notify the 911 Board before going up for repairs.

McBurnett said she would be satisfied “as long as the [911] board notifies me or this commission as to what’s going on up there so that we have knowledge of the potential for any other interference that might come up in the future.”

The commission approved a resolution to begin construction on the tower with plans to revisit the issue of moving equipment at a later date.

“We wanted it to put it in about a year and a half ago,” Hart said. “We’re looking at a completion date — we hope a year at the most.”

The 911 Board dispatches all calls for Arab Fire and Rescue, Boaz Fire and Rescue, Guntersville Fire and Rescue, Marshall County Volunteer Fire Departments, Marshall County Rescue Squads and Marshall Medical Centers Ambulance Service.

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