Ford Communications Tower ownership may be transferred to city, county

The Ford Communications Tower, located in a field off of Ford Road in Clark County, is the central catalyst for communications relayed by the Clark County sheriff’s department, Winchester police, firefighters, EMS and another area first responders. East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) is no longer in need of the tower, and has given the city an ultimatum: take it off their hands, or refuse the offer and let the tower be torn down. The asking price: one dollar.

At Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Winchester City Commission, officials voiced their intent to proceed further with negotiations regarding the passing of ownership. 

“Initially, the communication tower was there just to serve the Ford Power Plant,” said Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner. “But it’s so well located, and the coverage is so great that over time, we added devices that allows communication for sheriffs, city fire, county fire, police, and EMS. It can be safe to say that without this tower, without anything to hook to this tower, we’ve got a big problem.”

The land the communications tower sits on is a transferable easement. According the county fire chief Steve Asbury, who was present at the city commission meeting, the easement would be transferred to both the city and the county, giving both joint-ownership over the tower. 

Winchester Police Captain Kevin Briscoe adds that, in a 2019 inspection from the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP), it was determined the tower remains in great shape, without a need of major maintenance anytime soon. 

The reason EKPC is letting go of the tower, according to EKPC spokesperson Kevin Osbourn, is that the cooperative is no longer in need of the tower due to infrastructural changes within the company. Because the communications tower has become a convenient fixture, EKPC approached the commission with this proposition. Otherwise, the tower will need to be torn down. 

If the commission proceeds with the purchase of the communications tower, the only cost the city will need to pay is that asking price of one dollar. Maintenance, and other associated costs, will be handled by EKPC and CSEPP until Fiscal Year 2024. 

“[The communications tower] is needed because we explored our possibilities of moving to other towers, and we feel this is the most feasible option,” said Asbury. 

The commission approved the motion to proceed with negotiations regarding the communications tower. This is an early step in the process of transferring ownership, meaning further developments will need to be acted on before the purchase is finalized.