BLYN — The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s Economic Development Authority has plans for a 4G communications tower, and Clallam County Fire District No. 3 officials hope they can tap into it.
The Tribal Council approved a resolution March 4 to authorize the EDA to pursue funding for the cell tower through a grant from the state Department of Commerce’s Community Economic Development Board program. The tower could be operational by November, according to a press release.
“Tribal citizens and employees have struggled with poor cell service for a long time,” said Ron Allen, tribal chair and CEO. “It makes sense that we would eventually take action to improve cellular coverage for the underserved.”
Fire Chief Ben Andrews said Tuesday afternoon during the district’s regular meeting that he provided a letter of support to the tribe.
“Our cellular communications are almost non-existent there, along with our mobile data terminals and other devices,” Andrews said.
Fire Commission Chair James Barnfather expanded on the area, calling it a known “dead zone,” which can be problematic when first responders are on a call.
“Because it’s in a bay, we need line-of-sight communication,” Barnfather said. “They get hidden in that radio shadow.”
Kyle E. Johnson, the executive director for the tribe’s EDA, said engineers are working on design specifications.
“The current lack of adequate coverage affects local residents, businesses, tribal employees, public safety and emergency care as well as travelers along Highway 101,” Johnson said. “A reliable cellular phone signal can make a significant difference in emergency situations for both people in need and first responders.”
Johnson confirmed the EDA has been working with the fire district about the possibility of sharing space on the tower.