NORTH FORK – Over a year from the time the Madera County Board of Supervisors approved the conditional use permit for a Verizon Cell Tower in North Fork, residents can finally phone home.
Verizon customers all over North Fork are reveling in the fact that can now make a cell phone call from La Cabana or Slim’s Koffee Shak in downtown North Fork, and are calling all their friends and neighbors to share the news.
Construction began on the cell tower, built to look like a giant pine tree, began on April 23, just outside the gate at Cascadel Woods.
Locals have been sending us photos as the work progressed, with the excitement building as the branches began to adorn the huge tower.
The tower was designed to minimize the visual impact of the site by positioning the it some 750 feet up the hill from Road 233 in a group of large pine trees.
At the Board of Supervisors meeting in June 2012, Mark Lobaugh of Complete Wireless Consulting described the new cell tower as a “sorely needed upgrade. The project will clearly result in improving the lives of residents in the North Fork area by providing access to a service that is enjoyed and expected by residents, travelers, merchants and emergency personnel service this community.”
Sheriff John Anderson also voiced his support, stating that cell service in the area is critical for his deputies in the performance of their duties.
“When that fire broke out back in 2001, we had to go door to door to get people evacuated. Aesthetics should take a back seat to public safety.”
Anderson also brought up the issue of reverse 911 at the June 2012 meeting.
“I’m going to estimate that most people under 30 don’t have landline phones anymore. With reverse 911 we can call, say, 500 homes at once if we need to, but we’re missing a lot of people because we don’t have contact with cellular. We can’t contact people in case of an emergency.”
Since the folks at Verizon have not returned any of our calls or emails over the past weeks, we can only guess at whether they are still testing and the service will be sketchy, or whether it is online for good.
The new cell tower is a boost not only to residents and first responders, but also for tourists and potential business in the North Fork Community. Right now, however, it seems people are just thrilled to be able to step into the 21st century and make a call without driving up to the North Fork School parking lot!