By Bruce Reichert, Executive Producer, Outdoor Idaho, Idaho Public Television

February 1, 2017 - The above-average snow this past month meant a trip to the Idaho City telecommunications site above town, to remove snow from the building housing our Idaho City digital TV repeater, next to the 80 foot tower. The site provides four channels of PBS television programming to the residents of Idaho City. It also provides the Boise County Sheriff’s office with a digital connection to the rest of Idaho’s public safety network.

“We weren’t sure what we’d find,” said IdahoPTV chief engineer Rich Van Genderen. “We just knew we didn’t want to go into February without checking it out. If ever there was a year to worry about snow load and ice dams, this is the year!” Van Genderen said this is the first year they’ve removed snow from the roof.

“We sure were impressed with the structural strength of that mobile military unit. It held up nicely under the weight of the snow.” The flat-roofed building was purchased to hold the electronic gear connected to the large antenna located about a mile northeast of Boise County’s solid waste facility.

Pictured: IdahoPTV Engineers Larry Smith (L), Rich Van Genderen (R). Photo by Bruce Reichert
Pictured: Rich Van Genderen (L) and Larry Smith (R). Photo by Bruce Reichert
IdahoPTV's translator site above Idaho City, Idaho. Photo by Bruce Reichert.

IdahoPTV’s Idaho City translator site was a five year project that was completed in 2012.

“It took a year to plan, another year to find funding, and three years to build,” explained Peter Morrill, retired general manager of Idaho Public Television. “When television went digital, the signal from Deer Point could not penetrate the valley that Idaho City is situated in. We knew we had to do something; Idaho City is a county seat of government and one of our state’s oldest towns.”

But Idaho City had no telecommunications site to locate a fill-in repeater, and it was no easy task to build one, said Morrill.

“Luckily, we were able to partner with the Idaho public safety folks who had a need to connect with local law enforcement and emergency services. We also worked with the Boise County Commissioners, the Forest Service, and Idaho Department of Lands to cross various properties. Finally, the good folks at Idaho Power did a wonderful job of installing almost a mile of buried power cable to the remote site.”

Van Genderen says now that the hip-deep snow has been removed, the Idaho City tower and building should survive the rest of the winter without additional shoveling.


Words and Photos by Bruce Reichert

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