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Cell Phone panels likely for La Veta Water tanks

by Brian Orr

WALSENBURG- At Tuesday’s Tri-Government County meeting, La Veta Mayor Mickey Schmidt stated he felt La Veta Town Board was “ninety percent sure” would conclude negotiations with AllTel and Comnet over putting cell phone panels on the town’s two water tanks.  “Unless some overriding issue knocks it out, it’ll just be negotiating price.”

    It is unknown how the negotiations with the other cell phone companies would affect the proposed 180 foot cell phone tower that is being hotly contested.

    The panels, which would be put on both water tanks, would essentially blend in to an already existing visual obstruction, and would provide much the same amount of coverage that the proposed cell tower would. 

    One of the companies wanting to use the water tanks is Comnet, which Commissioner Roger Cain called a “gap company,” in that it’s business niche is to fill the gaps in coverage left by other cell phone companies. “They are a low-frequency band; mostly line-of-sight, with a range of about eight miles,” Cain said.  Although the panels would be pointed in all directions, there would still need to be a repeater station placed up into the Cuchara Valley, if Cuchara were to have any hope of cell phone coverage.  Cain thought it was a good idea; “If the town can make a little money and it provides better service; life is good,” he said.

    In other business, the group read over the job description for the proposed new position of Communications Supervisor, would be a county employee answerable to the Commissioners, and would oversee the dispatch services and the dispatchers.  The salary for this position and the new upgrade of dispatch equipment is slated to come out of the proposed one cent sales tax increase that the county and the towns are touting.  It is expected this sales tax increase could make the county approximately $240,000.  There is also a $158,000 DOLA grant the county is angling for to help with salaries and equipment.  There will also be the creation of an Emergency Dispatch Advisory Board (EDAB) make up of one person from each the participating entities involved.

    County Administrator John Galusha handed out copies of the proposed Huerfano County Economic Development Policy, which would be used to guide future business expansion in the county.  In order to request building incentives, companies would need to write a report, which would be graded for factors such as would the business increase the area’s quality of life, bring more jobs in, or provide stewardship of county resources.  From the score the company receives, possible economic incentives or tax breaks might be offered to the business.  Galusha said he would ask the Commissioners to approve the policy, and urged representatives of La Veta and Walsenburg to approve similar po­lices for business incentives.