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Winston County awarded grant to repair tornado-damaged communications system

MONTGOMERY — It’s been more than a year since a tornado whipped through Winston County, leaving damaged homes, businesses in its wake.

Also among the damage was a communications tower for the county’s emergency communications system. But, now, thanks to grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, emergency personnel will be able to respond to calls to protect lives.

The $82,500 grant, announced by Gov. Kay Ivey, will assist the county in rebuilding the  tower in west Winston County. The structure was damaged during a storm in January 2023. Upgrades will also be made to emergency communications equipment on the east side of the county.

“A reliable emergency communications system is essential for law enforcement and other first responders to coordinate timely life-saving efforts,” Ivey said. “These vital funds will help rebuild and extend the reach of Winston County’s emergency communications system which was damaged last year by a tornado.”

The proposed improvements include the construction of a 920-foot-tall communications tower, standing 20 feet taller than its predecessor and engineered to withstand winds of up to 110 mph. Base stations will be constructed on the west and east sides of the county.

County leaders say the improvements will enhance communications infrastructure and improve 911 emergency calls.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers the ARC program in Alabama.

“These improvements are essential to the safety and welfare of Winston County residents,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell said. “ADECA is pleased to join Gov. Ivey, ARC and the Winston County Commission in support of this project.”

Ivey informed Commission Chairman Roger Hayes of the approved grant with the county committing matching funds of $82,500 for the improvements.

ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments. The agency’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation. Thirty-seven Alabama counties, including Winston County, are part of the ARC region and eligible for funds.

ADECA manages a range of programs that support law enforcement, economic development, recreation, energy conservation and water resource management.

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