HARTINGTON - After more than a year, Cedar County is in the final stages of erecting a new permanent 911 tower.

The old tower just north of Hartington was blown down by heavy straight-line winds in a derecho last April.

Since then, the county has been operating its 911 system off of a temporary tower half the height of its old one.

County Emergency Manager Kevin Garvin says that's greatly diminished the coverage area dispatchers are able to use to communicate. He says staff have often had to improvise to get rescue officials out to some of the more rural parts of Cedar County.

"Where cell phones work if the radio doesn't, they use their cell phone," Garvin says. "When neither works they'll go park a vehicle on top of a hill and relay messages that way if they have to."

The new tower will be placed just north of the old site along Highway 57. Garvin says the county is taking steps to make the new tower more resilient to weather.

"The old tower was a guyed tower," Garvin says. "It was held up by external guy wires. This new tower is going to be a self-supporting tower designed to meet the current standard and hopefully some of the future standards that the weather's going to toss at it."

Garvin says if all goes according to plan, the new tower should be fully operational by this July or August.