By James Stewart Thanks to a sizeable donation of both materials and physical labor, communication among McCulloch County emergency services and fire departments has improved dramatically. A repeater on the radio tower that sits atop Lohn Mountain got a 320-foot vertical boost last Friday, effectively improving signal strength to virtually all portions of McCulloch County. Prior to the movement of the repeater antenna, clear and static-free communication between handheld radio units of McCulloch County EMS and fire departments was difficult to attain. In addition to raising the vertical position of the repeater antenna, a new 1-5/8″ coaxial cable has replaced the old 1/2″ cable that previously connected the antenna to the hardware equipment. The improvement goes all but unnoticed to everyone outside the network of individuals who use the radio, but the improved radio signals and communication have already been a welcomed change to fire and EMS crews who use the radio as a vital communication link. The new cable with an estimated cost of nearly $5,000 was donated by Kent Foster, owner of Cellular One. The manual labor of raising the repeater and rewiring the cable was performed free of charge by EasTex Tower Service. Had the local fire department been required to pay for the upgrade, the total cost of raising the repeater is estimated to have been over $7,000. “We have been working to get FCC approval to raise the antenna for over a year,” said BVFD president Jesse Slaughter. “Once we got the approval, we were researching our options for procuring new wire when Bill Ricks put us in touch with Mr. Foster. Without the generous support of Foster and Cellular One, as well as EasTex, we would not have been able to afford such a drastic improvement.” The repeater is owned and operated by the Brady Volunteer Fire Department that originally purchased the equipment with a $14,000 grant from LCRA. In its original configuration, the repeater was hung at a height of 80 feet on the tower. Now at the top of the 400-foot tower, outlying fire departments now have adequate radio signals to utilize the communication frequency.