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  • This article by Betsy Marston originally appeared in the May 16, 2013 issue of High Country News.
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Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Heard Around the West     Comments: 0

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Have a ponytail? Watch out for owls!

News: May 16, 2013
by Betsy Marston

MONTANA AND COLORADO

As the Missoulian puts it, "There's rotten cellphone service, there's nonexistent cellphone service, and then there's what's happening just a few miles east of Ovando." Which is exactly nothing, because a 195-foot-tall cell phone tower near this tiny western Montana town has never connected a call to anybody. Clearview, a Florida-based company, fought hard for over a year first attempting to build its tower next to Trixi's Antler Saloon and Family Diner, a local landmark named after the riding and roping showgirl who bought it in the 1950s. But opponents defended their hangout with its tractor-seat bar chairs, forcing the company to build its tower on a ranch. Then, for months, nothing happened: No carrier has ever come forward to use the tower. Peeved at the delay, Missoulian editors want the county to force Clearview to either find a carrier or tear the tower down. As the Powell County planner said, the tower now resembles "a rather large lawn ornament."

Meanwhile, in Grand Junction in western Colorado, a couple is suing the county and the church next door for allowing Verizon to start building a cellphone tower disguised as a belfry atop Monument Baptist Church, reports the local Daily Sentinel. Homeowners Henry and Judith Drake view the non-bell-ringing structure as a potential health risk, and charge that its construction has derailed their plans to build a home nearby for their son and his family. It is nothing less than a "life-altering event," say the Drakes. County planners, however, say a belfry is just a belfry, and as a "minor site plan" it required neither posting nor notice to neighbors, whether they're foes of the faux or not.

Heard 45.8
ARIZONA: Locally grown. Courtesy Melissa Urreiztieta.

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