Pollock Petitioning for Cell Phone Tower

Andrew Van Kuren, seeking signal for Campbell County
Andrew Van Kuren, seeking signal for Campbell County

Campbell County Economic Development director Andrew Van Kuren says the free market has failed to provide hundreds of folks in the Pollock area with the cell phone service they need and deserve. Van Kuren and his neighbors are circulating paper and online petitions to get some kind telecommunications company to build them the cell phone tower that, so far, market forces have said isn’t worthwhile.

Van Kuren’s petition says his neighborhood needs cell phone service for “health, welfare, social activities, business economics and public SAFETY”. But Van Kuren doesn’t want anyone sticking one particular naughty word on this request:

Van Kuren said a cellphone tower is something that the town has needed for more than a decade.

“We are not saying we are entitled, but we have enough economic activity to make it (worthwhile) for a carrier to put one here,” Van Kuren said. “There are several reasons why we need one, and we hope that we will get one” [Tatum Dean, “Safety Concerns Prompt Cellphone Tower Drive in Pollock Area,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.06.06].

Entitled—ooooo. It’s o.k., Andrew. I don’t think you’re asking for some special treatment any more than your neighbors’ grandparents were asking for special treatment back in the days of rural electrification (brought to you by Democrats—you’re welcome!). More quickly than electricity, mobile communication service has moved from novelty to essential utility. Equal access to public services, job opportunities, and economic development requires that citizens be able to connect with whomever, whenever, wherever.

Perhaps instead of subsidizing big businesses in big towns that already have advantages in the marketplace, the Governor could direct some of the GOED Future Fund toward building basic utilities like cell phone towers in the state’s dead zones. Consider that the four million Future Fund dollars Sioux Falls ad firm Lawrence & Schiller got for marketing could buy a cell phone tower for Pollock and 25 other South Dakota towns that right now might as well be on Mars given how long it takes them to communicate with Mission Control.

Every South Dakotan is entitled to equal access to basic utilities. Mobile voice and data communications have become a basic utility. Keep petitioning, Pollock!


5 Responses to Pollock Petitioning for Cell Phone Tower

  1. Amen to that! Moving from Spearfish to my current location, makes me feel that I’ve moved back in time as far as technology goes.

    Only one landline phone provider available. (no free market in these parts! )They take advantage of it and charge about 3 times what I was paying in Spearfish. I put up a cell phone booster, and on a good day, I can get some scratchy cell service from the ole homestead. (no, I’m not blocked out by mega hills)

    Internet. Wowsers, what an adjustment that has been. Feel like I’m back on dial up, sometimes. And I have a data cap, so streaming or watching videos is out! It would deplete my data cap in no time. So internet useage ’round here is pretty sparse. Despite what we rural folk were promised over 2 years ago. (Senator Thune, I’m talking to you!)

    “Mobile voice and data communications have become a basic utility.” you are so right, Cory! Sure don’t feel like it here, but hoping in time, things will change.

  2. Dana P, I hate to speckle the Black Hills with more towers, even the fancy fake-pine-tree towers I saw in Wyoming on my vacation couple weeks ago. The problem in your neighborhood isn’t just that there aren’t people, it’s that you’ve got hard topography in which to broadcast, right? Even a massive satellite broadcast effort would face difficulties getting around mountains, wouldn’t it? Is it feasible to get broadband to every residence in the Hills?

  3. Aren’t cell phone towers owned by the big corporations that provide the magic beams you talk on? I don’t think our government should be building towers for big corporations now, do you?

  4. No, Grudz, but how about subsidizing towers for non-profit rural communications cooperatives?

  5. I hear ya, Cory. Not a fan of the towers either. The topography, where I am specifically, doesn’t at all preclude me from getting cell service. In fact, a “tree designed” cell tower was installed 4-5 years ago just east of the Sugar Shack burger place, where I should be able to ping easily. but no, the tower sat in the “off” position for many years (landowner was paid nice monthly stipend for that tower – which I’m sure taxpayers subsidized) , but none of us cell users had access to it because cell comp wouldn’t activate it. They just turned the tower on a few months ago, and with my booster, voila, I’m getting cell service.

    Funny (in a not so funny way) you mentioned broadband. Roughly two years ago, with rural initiative funds (tax dollars, right?) fiber optic cable was installed/completed (so we are being told – and we witnessed) from Deadwood to Hill City (via 385). Broadband right around the corner for us, right? NOPE! We were told that it would be “any day”, yet, nada. Talked to a few line level Century Link employees and we were told that it is already to go – the only reason we aren’t getting the service? They indicated it is all about politics. Mr Thune did promise this would change in his leadership position when GOP took majority in senate. Despite some of my letters to him, no change. I guess he is busy working out or something.

    Europe and other countries have interesting topography also. But seem to be way ahead of our country when it comes to technology, cell service, and internet service and speed. Despite the topography. (I think in 2009, Finland made high speed internet for all its citizens a legal right!) It seems pretty apparent that US corporations hold the cards – and heck, if they get crony capital dollars, getting some average service to us average folk, would just cut into that money that is going into their pockets. Sad, but true.