FARMINGTON — A crane will be used to help a communications company remove an old 10-foot microwave communication dish near the top of a 190-foot emergency communications tower. The crane also will be used help install two new antennas near the top of the tower.

The county owns the 190-foot tower on Mosher Hill that formerly belonged to Tri-County Emergency Management Agency. Hussey Communications of Winslow contracted with the county for $88,661 to remove old equipment from the tower and install Franklin County’s new communications equipment. It is an effort to improve emergency radio communications in the county.

Franklin County still owns the nearby 100-foot tower off which emergency communications are running. The equipment on that tower will be kept in place in case communications on the taller tower fails. Both towers are on property the county leases from Susan and Tom Eastler.

Stan Wheeler, Franklin County’s director of the Regional Communications Center, told commissioners Friday that a representative of Hussey refused to climb the taller tower any more because it moved too much.

The old 10-foot dish still has to be removed, he said.

A structural analysis was done on the tower. The tower is safe but failed Class 2 wind-loading specifications under 2016 standards, Wheeler said. The guy wires need to be upgraded to thicker wires. It means the tower is in danger of falling in 90-mph winds, he said.

The tower will have significantly less weight on it after the dish is removed and the county’s equipment installed.

Farmington Fire Chief Terry Bell, a member of the county’s Communications Advisory Board, contacted Cote Crane & Rigging in Auburn to see what the cost would be to have a crane assist with removing the dish. The cost is $2,800 for eight hours, which includes traveling to Farmington and getting set up, Bell said.

Bell contacted Cote in the midst of the meeting and said the cost for two days of crane use would be $5,600.

Commissioners approved that amount. Wheeler does not not have it in his budget but half of it could come from the county’s tax-increment financing agreement fund.

The work will be done the week of Oct. 31.

It was estimated that adding upgraded guy wires could cost between $10,000 and $30,000. A definite estimated had not been finalized.

Wheeler will include funds for the new guy wires in his 2017-18 budget.

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