County eyeing Golden Valley for VIPER

Mar. 30, 2013 @ 08:01 AM

In an effort to improve emergency communications in the northeastern part of Rutherford County, County Manager Carl Classen said he is looking at a location in Golden Valley for a new VIPER communications tower.

VIPER, or Voice Interoperability Plan for Emergency Responders, is a new statewide communications system that utilizes 800 MHz for emergency communications.

Classen said that the county has found property owned by the Fairview Mountain Ministries on Mason Road in Golden Valley that can be a potential location for a state VIPER tower.

In addition to providing improved emergency communications, Classen said that a tower in Golden Valley is the potential for additional uses for the tower such as cellular, wireless Internet and other radio transmission.

“We just have to design it so that there is no interference with the other transmissions,” Classen said.

Rutherford County is exploring the potential of partnering with the state to improve cellular and wireless Internet coverage in the northeastern part of the county and, the VIPER tower, he said, could help solve those coverage issues.

The county has one VIPER tower installed in Spindale at a cost of $750,000 to the state. A second location for a tower is near Chimney Rock State Park. A tower in Golden Valley, Classen said, would provide almost uniform coverage for emergency responders on the 800 MHz band.

The tower in Chimney Rock would not be utilized for increased cellular or Internet coverage but only be used for emergency communications.

“They have found a site in Chimney Rock where it would not be visible,” Classen said. “That is the big issue. We want to make sure that the tower is not visible from the public viewing areas.”

The location in Chimney Rock would also serve parts of Henderson, Buncombe and McDowell counties.

As for the location in Golden Valley, Classen said that the key element will be partnering with the state to ensure the location and the logistics will work for tower placement.

Adding the possibility for increased cellular and Internet coverage would be icing on the tower cake.

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“We are trying to provide more of a service to the people in Golden Valley,” Classen said. “What we are hearing from the people there is they want better service and we are trying to work to make that happen.”

Classen said there has been no talks with any cellular companies to place cellular service on any tower located in Golden Valley.

“We’re hopeful that if a cellular company is interested, they will contact us,” Classen said. “Right now, we want to make sure that the state is a willing partner and, once that is established, we will start soliciting cellular companies to lease space on the tower.”

He said there has been no timeframe established on the implementation of a tower in the location.