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New Mexico State University

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Decision reduces structures on "A" Mountain

A new KRWG-TV tower to be built on Tortugas Mountain ("A" Mountain) will allow digital transmission, reduce the number of structures on the site and blend into the background as much as possible.

ckwood, a specialist in the New Mexico State University real estate office, said the tower planned for the north peak of "A" Mountain will not even require lighting because it is under 200-feet in height. The north peak contains four existing communication rights-of-way: the new NMSU site, the City of Las Cruces site and two commercial sites - one for Southwest Wireless and the other for Pinnacle Towers.

The Bureau of Land Management that oversees the site ordered the existing city and NMSU towers removed. This will allow for the replacement of three existing towers with one new tower and will include combining certain transmission signals to reduce the number of antennas currently at the site.

The new tower structure will be smaller than the one previously planned at the south peak site. The tower, three-sided, self-supported, made of galvanized steel and built in the style of an open lattice, will be about 150-feet tall with the top antenna, which belongs to KRWG-TV, adding another 46 feet.

Stainless/Doty-Moore, a national tower construction company, has already begun construction. The new tower is scheduled to be in place by mid-November.

Other transmission systems belonging to the NMSU Police, the NMSU Amateur Radio Club and the NMSU's Information and Communication Technologies Department (ICT) will share the new tower with KRWG-TV.

"This project will allow public television to remain here on campus and broadcast to the local community," Lockwood said. "In addition, the new tower will allow a better coordination and fit of all the existing public safety broadcasts from the mountain to the community."

Bill Grigaliunas, general manager of KRWG-TV said, "From 'A' Mountain, thousands will be able to watch digital television for the first time and this will reflect well not only upon the TV station, but also upon New Mexico State University, to which the TV station is licensed."

"Digital broadcasting is the wave of the future," he said, later noting, "In a few years, all televisions will be digital televisions."

Once the tower has been built, construction on the building that houses NMSU's transmission equipment can begin. For safety reasons, the university does not want the two construction crews working on two different structures at once.

NMSU is actively working with the City of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County through a tri-party agreement and with the Bureau of Land Management and the other right-of-way holders on site access and transmission signal details. Also, the university is working out road access issues with the Tortugas and Piro-Manso-Tewa tribes that use the mountaintop every year.

The project is being funded by two sources. A federal grant worth $2.2 million and administered by the University of New Mexico will pay for the tower construction and antennas.

The second source of funding is a $507,000 grant acquired by KRWG-TV and administered by NMSU. It will pay for the construction of the building housing transmission equipment. Requests for bids to construct the building will be advertised in late September.

The need for a digital tower came about in 1998 when Congress mandated all public television stations to convert from analog to digital transmissions. NMSU, the city of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County have worked with other interested and affected agencies and citizens along with the BLM to combine and reduce the current facilities on the mountain as well as meet the federal mandate for public television conversion.