After nearly an hour of public comment, the Menominee County Board voted 7-2 to approve a $5200 work order the Gunnerson Consulting to negotiate a lease with Aquila Resources for the placement of 911 radio equipment on a tower to be constructed by Aquila on their proposed mine site. The proposal has been recommended by the County’s 9-1-1 Governing Board. Gunnerson has been working with the county to come up with options to improve radio coverage for fire departments and emergency responders throughout the County, including areas in Lake Township that currently have no radio coverage. Gunnerson believes that a tower on the Aquila property would provide the widest coverage in the underserved area. Aquila has told the county they are planning to build a 180-foot tower for their own needs, and would be willing to lease space on the tower to the county. County Administrator Jason Carviou says the county would like to get away from owning and maintaining their own towers. The cost to the county if they built a similar tower was estimated at $340,000.
Some members of the public expressed concerns about the county doing business with the controversial mine which the county board has gone on record opposing. Carviou says any agreement on leasing power space would strictly be a commercial agreement and would not have an effect on other issues regarding the mine.
With the mine still seeking permits to allow construction and operation, there were some questions raised as to when, if ever, the tower would be constructed. Carviou says the county could negotiate penalties into the lease if the tower were not available when the county needs to use it.