Craig off the air

TV, radio, police affected by Friday's wind

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Friday's wind and rain storms knocked out power throughout the Yampa Val-ley and took out towers on the Sandrocks used by K27 Television, Steamboat Springs radio station 104.9 KMFU and Moffat County's law enforcement agencies.

No one is quite sure when the towers will be fixed.

Electrical line crews were out at 6 p.m. trying to restore power to an area on Craig's west side. McDonald's, Wendy's, Kmart, the west side Kum & Go and the traffic signal at U.S. Highway 40 and Finley Lane were without power Friday evening.

"There were various outages through our whole service territory," Yampa Valley Electric Association spokesman Jim Chappell said Friday evening. "A large portion of Steamboat Springs was out for about 45 minutes ... and I know Craig got hit harder than we did."

Jason Keene, state radio technician at the Moffat County Public Safety Center, said he got a call at 2:15 or 2:30 p.m. Friday, reporting the Craig Police Department repeater was down.

So, dispatch switched CPD's communications to Colorado State Patrol's frequency temporarily while they could be moved to a back-up control station at the center. Keene said communications are back working fine, though the "pacsets," or portable radios, officers carry have spotty reception.

"We're back to normal operation, short of using the Sandrock site," he said. "(We could use the control station) forever if need be, but let's hope it doesn't take that long."

The other agencies hit aren't so fortunate. Dan Olsen, news director for K27, said their microwave receiver on top of the Sandrocks blew down from wind, so they are out of commission until Hutton Radio Communications can do something about their antennas.

Les Hutton, owner of Hutton Radio Com-mun-i-cations, said he's not sure how soon he can make repairs to the towers and antennas, because a nearby utility pole fell, casting power lines over the fence surrounding the towers. Until he can get inside, Hutton has no idea how long replacements will take, or whether they'll be made. The 60-foot H-shaped towers are owned by Moffat County, and the antennas are owned by each individual organization.

So, when Hutton determines whether any of the towers can be salvaged and how much the price tag will be, it's up to the county to decide to spend the money or not. Hutton did not have an estimate for the cost of a new tower.

"It's not going to be a quick fix, anyway," he said. "When towers fall down, it's not a nice thing. It's like the roof being torn off a building."

K27's two-foot round dish is fine, Hutton said, but the station could be facing $3,500 for a new transmitting antenna.

"We hope to be back on the air as soon as possible," Olsen said.

Yampa Valley Electric Association had plans to get to the towers Friday evening, and then Hutton Radio Communications can get inside the fence to evaluate the damage.

But for K27 and KFMU, it's not clear how long they'll be off the air or when they can be functioning properly again.

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031 or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

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