WATERVILLE — About a dozen people watched Thursday as a 140-foot-tall radio communications tower was put up outside the police station on Colby Street.

Police administrators, detectives, sergeants, Colby College security officials and others stood on the Police Department lawn to watch as a crane from Hussey Communications, of Winslow, raised the steel tower in two pieces — first, a 100-foot-tall section, which was bolted to three concrete pads on the ground, and then a 40-foot section, which was bolted to the top of the first piece.

Hussey started setting up equipment around 9 a.m., and by 10:30 a.m. the top tower piece was in place.

Matt Hussey, 34, son of Hussey owner Peter Hussey, climbed the steel tower to unhook the chains used to lower the first section, and then he helped guide the top piece onto the lower section and bolted it together.

While those on the ground shook their heads and said they would never climb that high, Hussey said between climbs that he enjoys it.

“It’s peaceful on a day like today — nice and sunny — great views and no wind,” he said.

He said he has been doing the work since he was 15 — about 19 years — and is the third generation in his family to do it.

The city bought the tower and six new base radios for $110,000. The base radios are in a room at the Police Department, and the tower will replace the tower on the roof of City Hall. The City Hall tower is old and too small for the equipment and number of antennas police need to dispatch emergency services in Waterville and to eight other communities, according to police Chief Joseph Massey.

As he watched the tower being raised, Massey said he was thinking about what a great piece of equipment it is and how it will enhance the Police Department’s communications capabilities after many years of functioning with a tower that is not large enough to handle all the department’s needs.

“This will enable us to do that,” he said. “It’ll also provide future growth if we decide to take on new communities or entities to dispatch for.”

Having the tower close to the radios allows for better maintenance, he said.

Before moving to the new building on Colby Street two years ago, the Police Department was in the basement of City Hall and the base radios were stored on the fourth floor.

If a traffic accident occurs on Front Street and knocks out a pole, police radio communications could be knocked out, creating a dangerous situation, according to city officials.

Hussey said that he will spend at least a week connecting the antennas to the tower and doing other work needed to make the tower operable.

Meanwhile, Massey said in an email later in the day that police will continue to use the tower on the roof of City Hall until the new tower is ready for use.

He said the city’s Federal Communications Commission licenses now cover the ones on City Hall and “once the new radios and tower are operational, we will have to update the licenses to reflect their new location.” He said the only requirement that was needed to put up the new radio tower on Colby Circle was a building permit, which the department got from the city.

Watching the tower work Thursday were the department’s four most recent communications supervisors — current supervisor Sgt. Jennifer Weaver, Sgt. Dan Goss, Detective Sgt. Bill Bonney and former police Detective Sgt. Mike Benecke, who now is associate director of security at Colby College.

Bonney said having a new tower installed “is a very big deal.”

“We’re going to be able to put new equipment on this tower, which is going to improve communications for us and all of our partner agencies, which is exciting,” Bonney said.

Peter Chenevert, director of Colby security, and assistant director Jennifer Sanderson also were on hand for the tower raising.

Chenevert said Massey invited them to the tower raising Thursday.

“It’s pretty impressive,” Chenvert said, after watching the operation.

Hussey’s wife, Heather, took photos from the Burger King parking lot across College Avenue and then walked over to a grassy area on Colby Circle, where others watched her husband work.

“He loves it,” she said. “He grew up doing this. I think it’s in his blood. If he can put up a tower, he’s happy.”

Dale Lehoux, 41, of Waterville, also was watching, as was Meghan Sears, 19. They said it was interesting.

A former volunteer firefighter in Plainfield, Connecticut, Lehoux said he attends the Waterville Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy, learned the tower was going to be raised Thursday and decided to come and watch.

“It’s once in a lifetime you get to see it,” Lehoux said, “and it couldn’t happen to anybody better than Waterville police. They’re a great bunch of guys. They deserve it.”

The concrete pads on which the tower sits were installed by Bill Mushero, of Oakland.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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