Providers, broadcasters working to restore service after high winds down towers

NORTH ADAMS -- Three cell phone providers and two radio broadcasters are scrambling to restore service in North County after a pair of communication towers collapsed just off the Mohawk Trail over the weekend.

Around midnight Saturday, high winds apparently caused one tower to topple onto a second tower with both crashing to the ground on the western summit the trail (Route 2), according to Cory Thurston of Williamstown, principal owner of North Adams Tower Company Inc.

However, Thurston told The Eagle late Sunday afternoon what caused the disaster remains under investigation.

The company operates the 150-foot cell tower that leases space to Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint-Nextel. The 160-foot radio tower broadcasts the signal of WUPE 100.1 FM and the Berkshire translator for public radio station WFCR in Amherst.

Verizon Wireless and the other cell phone providers were notified and are working on temporary solutions in order to re-establish service. Verizon Wireless has deployed a portable antenna not far from the tower site, according company spokesman Mike Murphy.

"Verizon Wireless' Network Team is in the process of hooking up a Cell-On-Wheels (COW)," he said. "Like the other tenants on this communications infrastructure we eagerly await Mr. Thurston's plans to repair or replace the tower."

Meanwhile, Gamma Broadcasting Berkshire Group, owner of WUPE is also trying to get back on the air.

"We're working on a temporary antenna that could be up as early as Monday afternoon, possibly on Tuesday," said Todd Lee, operations manager for the local radio station operators. WUPE programming can still be hear on WUPE 1110 AM or via live-streaming on the Internet.

The radio tower collapse also temporarily affected emergency communications equipment attached to the structure that serves several communities, a problem that was rectified by mid-afternoon Sunday, according to North Adams city officials and Thurston.

"All public safety [communications] is up and running due to back-up systems or redundancy," he said.

Mayor Richard Alcombright praised the rapid response by local, regional and state emergency agencies for ensuring emergency communications were restored as quickly as possible.

"We have one of the best regional emergency management teams around -- I'm proud of everyone," he said

While 911 services remain in place, Alcombright urged residents who rely on mobile communications and are without cell service to make emergency phone calls via a land line.

For an emergency, contact the North Adams Police Department at (413) 664-4944 and press 1 for dispatch.


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions