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Hagerman’s new tower should improve emergency communications

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The town of Hagerman’s emergency communications should improve significantly in about three weeks after its new tower is operational, according to Hagerman Police Chief Rachelle Bateman.

With funding from a federal grant, the Masonic Lodge of Hagerman and the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, the town has started work to install the 320-foot tower donated by Southwestern Wireless Co., based in Roswell.

The structure will be located on about 43 acres near the intersection of Shoshoni and Petree roads.

“They are placing the rebar and stuff like that to get ready for the cement pour,” Bateman said. “There have been a few minor delays, but that is kind of to be expected for projects like that.”

The Chaves County municipality of about 1,230 residents previously received approval from the Chaves County Planning and Zoning Commission and the Chaves County Board of Commissioners for a special permit to allow the tower at that location.

The project is estimated to cost about $180,000.

“We actually managed to be a little bit under budget,” said Bateman. “We haven’t gotten the final bid on the fence yet, but we were expecting to have to pay $20,000 for a building that would be functional for us, where we found a used one for $5,000.”

The building will be used to house the radio repeaters, and its costs are being covered by the Sheriff’s Office, Bateman said.

The new tower was needed after American Tower Corp., the current owners of a nearby existing tower, told Hagerman officials that the town would have to pay $3,600 a month to continue to have its two antennae on its tower, antennae Hagerman used for police, fire and emergency medical services calls. From 2000 until recently, the town was able to use the tower for free when the structure was under different ownership.

Town officials said that the proposed cost was untenable. A second factor prompting the erection of its own tower is that Hagerman has experienced some interference and static with its calls because its antennae were located fairly low on the 280-foot American Tower structure.

“We are looking forward to being able to communicate down there in the Valley much better once that tower is complete,” Bateman said.

Chad Hamill, director of Emergency Services for Hagerman, has said that the town’s emergency crews cover southern Chaves County and a northern portion of Eddy County.