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      250-foot communications tower rises in Ottumwa

      It was a sight to see Tuesday at the location of the new E-911 communications tower in Ottumwa. The Illinois-based company hired to construct the structure began its first phases of putting it together early Tuesday morning. Wapello County Secondary Roads paved the way for massive cranes and equipment to come through, then the stacking began.

      When finished, the tower will stand at 250 feet tall and will operate as the main means of 911 communication for not only the Wapello County Sheriff's Office, but Wapello County Roads and the Ottumwa Regional Health Center, as well.

      "Today they're doing the tower- the standing of the tower," said Josh Stevens of Wapello County Emergency Management. "It should take - they were here about 8 a.m. this morning and they'll be done by the end of today. Doing the main sections, the ladder and some other pieces will be done later, but the bulk of the tower standing will be done today."

      A 55,000 pound shelter was also delivered Tuesday that will eventually house a generator and other equipment.

      The new tower stands just behind the Ottumwa Fire Department and had to be constructed when the decision was made to demolish the old St. Joe's Hospital, which is where the previous tower stood.

      Once the tower stacking is complete, radio communications equipment will be installed, which will take about three weeks, then the county and other officials will begin the process of transferring all information from the old tower to the new one and making sure everything is working properly.