New Cellcom Tower Gets Cold Reception

By: Sabrina Wu
By: Sabrina Wu

People living in a small rural township east of Merrill say they do not want another cell tower in their area. They say they'll do whatever they can to stop Cellcom from building one in their neighborhood.

"I'm not against cell towers, but building it here," said David Bessey, whose home is located about 400 yards from the proposed site, "it would lower the value of my property."

Bessey and his neighbors say they want answers as to why Cellcom's chosen the location on Pleasant View Road.

The company says it picked the spot because that's where users can get optimal coverage. Public Relations Manager Brighid Riordan says there are spots along Highway 64 where customers can't get cellular reception, and the company is calling that a safety risk.

"Nowadays it's pretty well known that cell phones are used in a lot of safety and emergency situations," said Riordan. "Their car may break down, and they may be in an accident. There are certainly no payphones in this area, so having a cell phone is a safety precaution many people use."

Seventy-four-year-old Salma Baumann, who started a petition against the building of the tower, says it would ruin the beauty of the area. She is among the neighbors who want Cellcom to rent space from an existing tower near Highway G.

"I thought we have enough towers." Baumann said. "They've got the one up there on G, and that would be just fine with me."

"Renting space at that site would not cover the area." Riordan says in a telephone interview. "It would be a waste of money. We'd still have a significant dead spot on Highway 64."

News Channel Seven contacted Emergency Services in Lincoln County. The director says they can't confirm whether there's a spot along Highway 64 where people can't call 9-1-1 on their cell phones.

The matter will be taken up at a town meeting on Tuesday.