County communications tower topples in accident

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By Mark Scohier



It's Murphy's Law: If something can go wrong, it will.

Throw in a state mandated deadline to spend every last penny of your annual budget by midnight, Sept. 30—with only two days left—and you can guarantee Murphy's Law will kick in. 

Such was the case when an employee of Conquest Construction Services LLC, was positioning a flatbed trailer early Saturday morning at the site of a pole barn being added onto the Levy County Sheriff's Office's maintenance building.

The driver of the truck drove the vehicle under a guide wire attached to a county-owned communications tower, according to Levy County Department of Public Safety Director David Knowles, "and, subsequently, down came 350 feet of steel."

Sheriff's spokesperson Maj. Evan Sullivan said the Saturday crew was there to complete construction of the $4,500 structure before time ran out, meaning that after the Sunday deadline, any unspent sheriff's office funds would go back to the county.

“Yeah, there was a rush,” Sullivan said. 

Sullivan said nobody was hurt in the accident, and the pole barn addition, which will be used as extra workspace for sheriff's office mechanics, was built on time.

But now there's the issue of the downed communications tower, which, combined with the damaged roofs of a small radio equipment building and a small portion of the sheriff's office's maintenance building, could, according to Knowles, cost as much as $650,000 to repair.

“We're still working on all the details,” Knowles said, adding that he was still dealing with insurance adjusters on the issue.

Knowles said he wasn't sure how long it would take to replace the equipment. In the meantime, because the tower was important for EMS and fire services to communicate with hospitals, he said the county has made use of equipment at other tower locations.

“Right now, we've just got temporary fixes for communications,” he said.

Lou Elliott Jones contributed to this story.