Commissioners hope to boost cellular signal

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, September 26, 2012

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Can you hear me now?

Wise County commissioners approved purchasing a cell phone repeater system for Weatherford College Wise County at their regular meeting Monday. Currently, cell phones are virtually useless in the new building.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns said signal is not received inside the building due to the concrete walls and metal roof.

He explained to the Messenger Tuesday that the exterior walls on the ground floor are 16 inches thick – eight inches on the second floor – plus masonry, rock and brick. The walls, plus steel decking, two layers of insulation and a metal roof make the building impenetrable for cell signals.

“About 10 feet away from the windows, and you’re done,” Burns told his fellow commissioners at their regular meeting.

He said the equipment to be purchased is an external antenna that repeats the signal inside, and it will handle four service carriers. The most recent quote for such equipment was $150,000.

Although its installation was not in the original contract with builder Steele and Freeman, the cost will be covered with bond funds.

“It’ll come from proceeds we hadn’t drawn,” Burns said.

The county had about $400,000 in contingency funds, money saved when the builder managed to buy down contracts or use materials from a source different from what was originally specified.

That money could have been used for this surprise purchase, Burns said, but the county ended up spending those funds to build a deceleration lane on U.S. 380 turning onto the campus and a right turn lane on Farm Road 1655 turning onto 380 as required by TxDOT. This was also an unexpected expense because, early in the process, TxDOT indicated these items would not be required of the county.

Burns said money is available for the additional cell phone equipment, it was not part of the original agreement with Steele and Freeman.

Commissioners also approved a $7,225 change order with Kimley-Horn on the college project.

A firm representative said the order was for “some overages and some underages.”

“We had to extend a few pours on driveways and cut some short … there were a few items that they didn’t have to do,” she said.

The bulk of the change order was a $5,900 expense related to a conflict in the location of a West Wise water supply line. The location was different from where the district originally indicated, and the county had to move it during the installation of sewer lines.

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