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July 01. 2014 7:52PM

Groveton’s new cell tower signs its first tenant

GROVETON — Within two weeks, a subsidiary of AT&T will begin installing equipment on a new tower designed to improve communications in the North Country and nearby Vermont.

The 195-foot-tall tower atop the 1,800-plus foot summit of Morse Mountain, represents a collaborative effort among the Northern Community Investment Corporation, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Northern Borders Regional Commission, the Northern Pass project and Public Service of New Hampshire.

On Tuesday, PSNH, in a prepared statement, said AT&T had signed a lease agreement to become the first cellular-service provider on the tower, adding that Northeast Wireless Networks will install the equipment there.

PSNH spokesman Martin Murray said the Mount Morse tower “helps fill a gap in wireless cellphone and internet service in New Hampshire’s North Country and Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. The calling equipment will also improve safety and emergency response, benefiting both the local community and tourists.”

Murray said, “Discussions are ongoing with other cellular service carriers as well as with local communities to use the tower to enhance first responder communication.”

In announcing the completion of the cell tower last fall, Gary Long, on behalf of Northern Pass, said the structure would bring “economic and educational opportunities to communities in need” while Jon Freeman, the president of the NCIC, hailed it as the start of a brighter future for Groveton.

“Our area businesses will see tremendous benefit from this project,” said Freeman. “It is difficult to compete in today’s economy without cell service and high-speed Internet.”

The cell-tower agreement with AT&T is the second piece of economic good news for the Groveton area this year.

On Feb. 11, representatives of Clear Energy of Marlborough, Mass., presented plans for White Mountain LNG, which would be located on the grounds of the former Wausau paper mill’s wastewater treatment lagoons and include the capacity to store 1.8 million gallons of liquefied natural gas on-site.

The LNG plant is expected to bring an estimated 84 jobs, nearly all for truck drivers, with a starting pay rate of $19 per hour. The plant is projected to generate $1.7 million annually in property taxes, which could effectively cut Northumberland’s municipal tax rate in half.

Additionally, Clear Energy has pledged to make a $100,000 annual charitable donation to the town for 15 years.

Evan Coleman, Clear Energy’s chief operating officer, has said a ground-breaking ceremony will be held sometime this summer, adding that the company has already signed several 15-year contracts with potential customers and has also identified the eventual operator of the Groveton LNG facility.

jkoziol@newstote.com


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