breaking news

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: What we know now

County considers courthouse for tower

Urbana board rejected Champaign County’s earlier plan.


A backup 911 tower may be placed on the county courthouse after a previous plan to install the tower on Urbana’s municipal building failed earlier this summer.

County and city officials had initially proposed to place a 70-foot tall wireless telecommunications tower on the city’s municipal building in downtown Urbana. But members of the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals voted against the plan, arguing among other issues that it would require waiving several variances, including the proximity of the tower to residences and roads, and the height of the tower above the roof.

Instead, a new plan could mean the antennae for the backup tower would be placed on the Champaign County Courthouse, said Craig Evans, director of the Champaign County Emergency Management Agency. If it moves forward, the tower would provide a backup 911 center in case of an emergency such as a fire or tornado at the current joint 911 center at the county office complex on U.S. 68.

The courthouse would be a suitable location, but is not ideal compared to the municipal building, Evans said.

One of the benefits of the initial plan is that there is space available at the municipal building for a 911 center where dispatchers could answer emergency calls, as well as additional space for an emergency operations center where local officials could review disaster plans and manage the emergency.

“We would have that at the city building,” Evans said. “I’m not sure we’ll have that at the courthouse.”

Mark Keller, chief of the Urbana Fire Division, said local officials had considered going back to the BZA with an updated proposal but ultimately decided it was unlikely to be approved. Instead, they’re hoping to have the backup system running at the courthouse by October or early November.

The project would be paid for with an $18,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, so Evans said the county also has to keep cost in mind for a potential location.

“The main factor is we have to have another place to go,” Keller said.

Earlier this month, there was a fire alarm at the current 911 center, but it was not evacuated. There have also been other incidents in recent months, including a bomb threat at the site.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Firemen: Child igniting paper on space heater starts fire at Orlando apartment complex
Firemen: Child igniting paper on space heater starts fire at Orlando apartment complex

At least 48 people were displaced after a fire at a Florida apartment complex Saturday morning, the Orlando Fire Department said.  Firefighters said no one was injured in the fire that broke out at the Windsor Cove apartments in Orlando around 10 a.m. Fire investigators said a child igniting paper on a space heater caused the blaze....
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: What we know now
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: What we know now

U.S. lawmakers are in session today but no deal is in sight to prevent an extended government shutdown. The Wright-Patterson Air Force Museum closed Saturday and other local governmental institutions will be closed Monday as Republicans and Democrats have failed to reach a deal to fund governmental operations. Both sides are dug in at the moment, with...
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: How it affects key parts of federal government
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: How it affects key parts of federal government

By RICHARD LARDNER Associated Press WASHINGTON — Thousands of federal employees began their weekends gripped with doubt, uncertain of when they’ll be able to return to work and how long they’ll have to go without being paid after a bitter political dispute in Washington triggered a government shutdown. Many government operations will...
Filing taxes? Here's how a government shutdown impacts the process
Filing taxes? Here's how a government shutdown impacts the process

Millions of Americans are ready to file their 1040s when the tax season opens Jan. 29 , but will the Internal Revenue service be open to process them? And how long will it take to get a refund? When Congress failed to agree on a funding bill early Saturday, the U.S. government officially ran out of money for the fiscal year and shut down, triggering...
Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants
Trump campaign ad calls Democrats 'complicit' in killings by undocumented immigrants

A new ad released by President Donald Trump's campaign is claiming that Democrats are “complicit” in killings by undocumented immigrants. The ad was released after Senate Democrats opposed a short-term spending bill to keep the government from shutting down. “President Trump is right — build the wall, deport criminals...
More Stories