Vote of 4-1 to allow new radio tower for county communication system in residential area
By LEGION TAYLOR
The Sopchoppy City Commission voted 4-1 last week to approve the construction of a 300-foot emergency communications tower at last week’s meeting, after studies showed that the location at the corner of Park and Gulf streets is the only viable location.
At the meeting on Monday, Nov. 13, City Commissioner Fred McClendon voted against it, stating he felt he had a responsibility to represent the interest of the people who live near that location, and that they did not want the tower there.
The change of heart for other city commissioners came after many first responders, including EMTs and law enforcement officers, came to the meeting to stress the need for a new communications tower.
“I want everyone to understand that this system is broken,” said Lt. Jeffrey Yarbrough, who serves as the Public Information Officer at the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office. Yarbrough gave examples of times where radio system failed to go through because of the poor coverage of the current system. He added that the tower needed to be constructed as soon as possible so that the safety of citizens and first responders alike isn’t jeopardized.
Wakulla County Planning Director Somer Pell brought an analysis of the original site, as well as other potential sites, such as behind the old Mom’s Restaurant near the center of town, but these sites all required expensive or time-consuming improvements before construction.
Mayor Lara Edwards, and city commissioners Michelle Harden, Roger McKenzie and Glenn Rudd voted for the tower’s proposed location. The city staff will change the zoning of the location, so that construction can begin in February, which is on schedule.
In other business:
- Two students from Wakulla High School. Joanette Colvin and Matt Payne, were at the meeting to ask for a sponsorship for their annual Civil Rights tour. This tour educates students on the Civil Rights movement in the United States, taking them to historic places such as Selma and Birmingham, Alabama. The commission unanimously voted to sponsor two students, fully covering their cost to go on the trip, which totaled $700 for both.
- Nathan Lewis came to ask the city for help removing two dead and diseased trees on Dixon Street, as they pose a hazard to the properties around them. The city commission said they would have someone look into it, but they made no formal decision.
- The city commission signed off on a letter of support for the extension of bike trails in Wakulla County.
- The city commission decided to move the December regular meeting to Dec. 18, to avoid scheduling conflicts which the city manager and public works director needed to be at for the well construction and improvements.
- Seth Green, the public works director, asked that the city pay the other licensed water service technicians to check wells on the weekends, because he didn’t want to shoulder the responsibility of doing it all on his own. The city commission decided that they would, and that they’d give each worker a raise to be in rotation for the job.