Gettysburg, SD

Cell tower to improve service at Whitlock Bay

Visitors to Whitlock Bay, west of Gettysburg, now have something to call home about; and soon they will be able to do that from their cell phones.
A letter received by Gayle Kludt, Executive Director of the Gettysburg-Whitlock Bay Development Corporation, states that the area has been selected by the Verizon Wireless network team to deploy a new tower in the first half of 2013.
The bay area has notoriously bad cell phone service, which is an issue with both residents and the more than 95,000 people who visit the state recreation and three surrounding resorts throughout the season. While the need for improved cell phone service in the area has been discussed for several years, a task force made up of Kludt, Development Corporation board members Ryan Persoon and Shirlee Drew, along with West Whitlock resident Eugene “Red” Jensen, put the wheels in motion last fall. “A lot of research went into gathering information and identifying the need for expanded cell service at Whitlock Bay,” said Kludt. “Shirlee, Ryan, and Red all live at the river so pesonally understand how important the need is to the area. They did a tremendous amount of work collecting data for us to package and send to Verizon.”
A package of information was sent to the cell phone company in November, with additional copies sent to businesses and political representatives in the region. “We did get responses from the offices of Senator Johnson and Representative Noem, along with support from area businesses and community representatives,” said Kludt. “We received a great deal of encouragement from the beginning. There has been a longtime need for this, and we are glad that we were able to at least help get the ball rolling.”
The letter received by Kludt was sent by Lyle Williamson, Director of State Government Affairs for Verizon in Greenwood Village, Colorado. In it, he stated, “The good news that I can report is that in the first half of 2013, Verizon Wireless’ network team will be deploying a new tower in the Whitlock Bay area that will improve our coverage there.” He went on to report that once the site is activate, they will conduct tests in the area and optimize the site for the best coverage possible. From there, the team will assess the improvements achieved and determine whether additional steps may be taken.
The letter closed by complimenting the Development Corporation task force. “You clearly represent a wonderful, vibrant and concerned community.  On behalf of Verizon Wireless, we appreciate your interest.  We are continually analyzing and evaluating areas where we can improve our network, and input like yours is crucial to that process.  We are pleased to be able to advise that coverage improvements are on the way.”
Additional information will be provided when the new cell tower is operational.
-Molly McRoberts