CLARION — In their continued effort to improve 911 service in the county, Clarion County officials last week authorized the first steps in constructing a new tower in Porter Township.

At their regular meeting on Nov. 10, which was held via Zoom, Commissioners Wayne Brosius, Ted Tharan and Ed Heasley unanimously approved a lease to own agreement with Darlin and Gina George for a tract of land on Cottage Hill that will be the site of the county’s latest 911 tower.

“It will be a new construction [to] serve the New Bethlehem area,” Heasley said.

According to county Public Safety director Jeff Smathers, obtaining the site for the new 250-foot tower is part of the county’s ongoing plan to move off rented tower sites to county-owned ones.

“This is one of the last ones we’ll need to get off of in New Bethlehem,” he said, noting that the county will save around $30,000 in the first year by owning instead of renting a tower.

“Twelve months in rentals will make us whole on the initial expense of the property,” Smathers continued. “And then in about two-and-a-half years, we’ll have the tower paid off.”

Smathers pointed out that a tower costs around $250,000 to $280,000, not including accessories such as generators and utility supplies.

“We have a five-year swap out on generators and things like that, no matter what site we would go to,” he said.

In addition to providing 911 communication in the county, Smathers said the new Cottage Hill tower also has the potential to host broadband coverage to area residents in the future.

“The towers are always built 20 to 25 percent over capacity,” he said, explaining that even with the county’s 911 usage, the tower could still support up to 25 percent more usage. “We won’t have any problem adding more stuff. [Broadband] expansion is needed in that area.”

The lease to own agreement was approved at a total cost of $30,000, with $6,000 due upon execution of the agreement and four yearly installments of $6,000 beginning in September 2021.

Additionally, the commissioners also approved two right-of-way agreements on the same tract of land — one with the Georges and the other with the Redbank Valley Municipal Authority — each at a cost of $1.

“There’s an existing right-of-way for RVMA to a water tank they have there,” Smathers explained. “We will be a partner on that right-of-way with RVMA and the Georges.”

Smathers said he expects construction on the new Cottage Hill tower to be complete at the end of January or early February.

Proclamation Issued

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for Coach’s 400th winAlso during the Nov. 10 meeting, the commissioners signed a proclamation congratulating Clarion Area High School volleyball coach Shari Campbell on her 400th career win, which occurred on Nov. 3.

“Coach Shari Campbell positively impacted many young women’s lives in Clarion County as a mentor and coach at Clarion High School for 22 years,” the proclamation states.

Under Campbell’s direction, according to the proclamation, the Clarion Area Lady Cats were the PIAA state Class-A champions in 2012, with an undefeated 23-0 season; and state runners-up in 2010 and 2011, with a three-season record of 62-7 overall.

In addition, the team has seven regional championships; 14 District 9 Class-A championships; and 16 outright KSAC championships plus two co-championships.

Campbell is also a seven-time honoree in the top five Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Final Rankings.

“Coach Campbell always scheduled top caliber opponents for any classification to help her team’s improvement,” the proclamation states. “More importantly, Coach Campbell and coaching assistants help mold athletes on and off the court.”

County Officials Give

COVID-19 UpdateIn the wake of last week’s decision to close county buildings to the general public in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-10, the commissioners provided an update last Tuesday morning on the virus within the county.

“County buildings were closed to the public effective [Monday, Nov. 9],” Brosius said, noting that members of the public should call ahead and schedule an appointment before coming in to any county building until further notice. “With the increase of the county’s COVID-19 cases, we’re trying to ensure the well-being of the employees and the community.”

As of last Tuesday, county administrator Jillian Fischer said that somewhere in the ballpark of five county employees had tested positive for coronavirus, “with the probability of more just because of the people they were in contact with.”

“We don’t have those results back yet,” Fischer said. “Obviously, we can’t give names or departments...but the county is taking the precautions that are needed to keep the rest of our employees and the community safe.”

One such precaution, she said, was the closure of county buildings to the public.

“That does not mean that all of the buildings had positive cases,” Fischer pointed out. “We’re just trying to mitigate as much as we possibly can just because there has been a huge increase within the last few days.”

Fischer added that the county is unsure how long the shutdown will continue.

“We’re just trying to keep everyone safe as best we can at this point,” she said.

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