Talks are continuing between the Village of South Jacksonville and AT&T in an effort to bring an end to the dead zone that encompasses the village.
Reliable cellular service continues to be a hot-button issue in the Village of South Jacksonville with residents reporting they are barely able to make calls much of the time and when they can get through, many times the calls are dropped.
In early May, the Village Board of Trustees unanimously rejected a proposal from AT&T to erect a new tower in the village due to the location directly south of the village’s police and fire department building.
Village President Dick Samples says talks have continued since then in an attempt to find a location for the 260-foot tall tower that would work better for both parties. “They want this tower somewhere close to the police department because of the location, not because it’s the police department.
We have been trying to talk to them for an alternative site which would move it to Prairie Land, and Prairie Land is I think talking to them. I have no problem with them moving it to Prairie Land, and it would probably be better because you could go ahead and farm the ground. They could go ahead and put the tower up and it would be in the middle and be better really than what they want to put out by our fire department.”
Samples say neither he nor the Trustees want to agree to put the tower south of the fire and police station as a quick fix that could hurt the village in the long run by cutting off the possible expansion of the departments and future residential development.
He says the village has suggested the tower be placed on the 40 acres behind the Love’s Truck Stop that is owned by the village, however, AT&T representatives say it is too far away and would not satisfy the coverage needs in the area.
“We need a cell tower. We need a better way of talking because AT&T’s system sucks, it’s terrible. It drops calls and does whatever and all that. But we’re doing everything we can do to make this thing work. But they tell you where they want that tower. We don’t tell them, they tell us.
We have suggested other places and they don’t want any part of it. They are not moving out by Love’s with a cell tower because again, it’s a half a mile from where they need the tower to be. They have shown us studies where in the Village of South Jacksonville the service is absolutely terrible, and that’s why they need one right here.”
Samples says they are tentatively scheduled to meet with representatives with AT&T sometime this upcoming week. He says whether or not the tower is placed on the Prairie Land Heritage Museum grounds or somewhere else in the village still remains to be seen.