The Ottumwa Courier

August 1, 2013

St. Joe's demolition still unknown

By CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — When St. Joseph Hospital will be taken apart remains to be seen, but work on the new communications tower is nearing completion.

Rachel Dilling, Ottumwa Regional Health Center marketing manager, said the timeline for St. Joe's demolition is still unknown.

"The process was held up previously because they were working on the communications tower," Dilling said. "Right now we're looking at funding to take it down. When the timing will be I think depends on when we can get funding."

But the hospital will foot the bill, she said, though the cost is also unknown.

"We're working on getting some updated figures as to what the cost will be," she said. "It's not something we can just implode or destroy in a big way. It's going to have to be a very tedious process, taking it down little by little because it's in a neighborhood."

Neighbors won't have to worry about asbestos, though, because that will be abated before any demolition can begin, she said. A few bids have been sent out for asbestos abatement.

The hospital decided to raze the building in 2011. There are currently 12 to 13 agencies who have towers sitting atop the hospital, all of which must move to the new communications tower soon.

"Right now it's a wait-and-see type of thing," she said.

Sabre Industries Towers and Poles, the general contractor for the communications tower project, oversaw Hi-Tech Towers, who installed the tower.

"We manufactured the tower and shelter," said Luke Nixa, Sabre Industries construction project manager. "Basically, what you saw [on June 18] was the highlight of the action, getting the shelter up there, setting the shelter, stacking the tower and getting it to height."

Since then, crews scrambled up and down the tower installing antennas and lines. They packed up their equipment last week when the fence was secured. Testing those lines is now left up to RACOM, a critical communications company.

"We took that site from a grassy area to a rock compound," Nixa said of the area on Ottumwa Street west of Iowa Highway 149. "It took awhile to get it up, but if they're happy with it once they get the radios hooked up, it's certainly going to be a huge, huge benefit to their communities.

"We do projects all over the country, so it was nice to see one right next door."

Wapello County Emergency Management coordinator Josh Stevens could not be reached as of press time.

— To follow reporter Chelsea Davis on Twitter, head to twitter.com/chelsealeedavis.