Cedar County having trouble finding land to build radio system

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 6:14 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington says first responders can’t get coverage in about a quarter of the county with their handheld radios.

“Our job is to protect the citizens,” he said. “And when you can’t have reliable communications, it makes it tough to do your jobs.”

Jodi Freet is the director of Cedar County Emergency Management. She says the lack of coverage in some areas bothers her. “We need coverage in the county,” she said. “I lay awake at night thinking about what could go wrong.”

Cedar County Supervisors approved an $8 million dollar bond to build a new radio network in the spring. For the project, they need to build a tower on four different parts of the county.

They can build one on land the county owns but need to buy the other spots. Wethington has reached out to more than 20 farmers asking buy an acre of land to build a tower. None are budging.

“These people work hard, and it takes sometimes generations to pay for this land,” said Wethington. “They’re attached to it.”

The sheriff wouldn’t go into how much they are offering for the land, only saying that it’s 15-times the assessed property value.

“Our citizens out here pay their taxes and expect to have the coverage and the tools to keep them safe,” he said. Wethington adds eminent domain is an option, but the county doesn’t want to do it.

People interested in selling land to the county can call the Cedar County Sheriff’s Office at 563-886-2121

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