OUTING -- Four years after receiving a grant to provide emergency weather radio service to central Cass County residents, Emergency Management Director Mike Carey told the county board Tuesday he still is struggling to get clearances to activate the system.
The county board voted to seek help from Minnesota congressmen to get these final clearances.
Carey told the board, since receiving the grant, he negotiated first to use either the WCCO tower by Hackensack or a Minnesota Power tower by Longville. In the end, using a Minnesota Department of Transportation tower near Leader proved most cost effective and could be accomplished in the shortest time, he said.
Currently, all equipment has been installed on the Leader tower, according to Carey, but license clearance is still pending.
Though the signal is expected to cover only about a 48-mile radius, Carey told the board license clearance is being required from Canada as well as the U.S. government. He said the Leader tower is considered close enough to Canada that signals under some conditions could cross the Canadian border, so a license also is needed from Canada.
The county board hopes their congressmen may be able to help expedite the approval process.
Ronald Vegemast, an engineer and Outing area property owner, wrote a letter to Commissioner Jim Dowson May 28, stating he would consider the county civilly negligent for failing to provide emergency weather radio service to county residents in the event someone were injured or killed in a storm.
He also questioned whether the tower by Leader will provide a strong enough signal to reach the Outing area whenever it is activated.
Carey told the board he believes the Leader signal should reach most Outing area properties. In the event is does not reach people on east-facing hillsides, Carey said the weather relay tower planned in Aitkin County should.
However, Carey said the Aitkin tower may be a year and a half away from activation. Tower use negotiations and licensing clearances are still in process in Aitkin, he said.
Tuesday, the board voted to accept the annual Minnesota Department of Public Safety grant to provide emergency management services in the county. This year's grant is $7,256.
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