Wittenberg tower building in need of major repairs

Towers are essential for dispatch center operations
Kevin Passon

Four 911 communications towers and the Work Release Center in Shawano County were the items featured in the latest Facilities Condition Assessment completed by Somerville Architects and Engineers.

The report was reviewed by the Shawano County Public Property Committee on Jan. 4.

Jim Davel, county administrative coordinator, said three of the four towers are in decent shape.

He said the Bonduel tower and housing unit are in the best shape. In Marion, there is a concern about one side of the building, as well as the generator. Gresham’s will need a new roof in about five years.

The Wittenberg housing unit, however, is another story altogether.

“The biggest concern is the build-out at the Wittenberg communications tower,” Davel said. “It’s terrible. We have $500,000 worth of equipment in about a $50 building. Essentially what we would like to do is build a box around the box, because we do not want to disassemble the communications equipment because it’s part of a ring. It would be very difficult, time consuming and very expensive. This is to the point where it needs to be done.”

An additional $25,000 was added to the budget this year for building repairs.

“For all the work, I think the maintenance department can do it themselves,” Davel said. “We don’t have to have anybody come in.”

Davel reminded committee members the towers are part of an overall communications system across the county.

“We spent a tremendous amount of money in the dispatch center. If you don’t have these towers working, that dispatch center doesn’t work. It’s time to start focusing on these buildings,” he said. “We gotta keep a focus on them because of the high cost of the equipment that is inside those buildings. The Gresham one probably has a million dollars worth of equipment in it.

“Nobody goes out to them, other than a very few people from the county. They don’t get a lot of publicity, but they are absolutely critical to the infrastructure that we have for the 911 system.”

Steve Dreher, maintenance director, cautioned the committee about the costs noted in the report.

“The facilities assessment — it’s a fantastic tool,” he said. “It’s letting you guys see from an outside source all the things that we’ve been saying. Do not take what they are estimating as costs. They are doing this out of a book. Prioritize by project, then we’ll go out and get the numbers for you that are much more accurate.”

There were no site or structural concerns reported for the Huber Work Release Center, which was built in 1997.

The sidewalks at the main entrance were recently replaced, as was the asphalt paving at the front parking and drive lane.