June 9, 2006 – It took almost nine years for WTJX Channel 12 to complete the process of erecting a new communications tower at its master control site on St. Thomas. However, after a lot of hard work – and numerous stops and starts – the finished product was unveiled Friday during a press conference held on Mountain Top.
"Today is really something historic," said Osbert Potter, executive director of the V.I. Public Television System, speaking to the small crowd of residents who had gathered to witness the activation of the tower.
"It's excellent, it's progress, and it's something that will really take television to the next level in the V.I. because it means a better signal for the territory – especially for our viewers in St. Croix."
Samuel James, the station's chief engineer, added that the service would particularly improve within the Blue Mountain, Hannah's Rest and Butler Bay areas of the island.
To illustrate this point, Potter and WTJX board chairman Roan Creque flipped the switch to turn on the tower, and told residents to look at the picture displayed on a nearby television set hooked up to the site.
"Say hello to St. Croix," Potter said, smiling as the crowd looked at the screen and saw a clear view of a parking lot in Gallow's Bay. "Now that's exactly what we wanted to do."
Potter said that tower – which looms upward 250 feet – would be the permanent home of station's digital antennae that powers channels 91, 92, and 93, and would be the future home of the antenna that feeds to channel 12.
He said the tower, which cost more than $400,000, is built to withstand sustained winds of 200 miles per hour and wind bursts up to 240 miles per hour. The funding for the project came from money appropriated to the station by the local government.
"We're thankful that the Legislature and the executive branch saw the need to fund this," Potter said after the press conference.
The process of building the tower began in 1997 and was picked up by Potter in 2004. "I basically saw it through," he said. "But it was a real stop and go sort of thing."
When the station first broke ground in 2005, Potter said they were stopped by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources because of a "mix-up" that had occurred with regards to the specifications of the tower. "Then, while we were in the process of clearing that up, the V.I. State Historic Preservation Office also put a stop on us because they said they had discovered some Indian artifacts at the site."
" We finally got clearance to begin building early this year," he said, "but it was all worth it."
"We're ecstatic and elated – we're so happy, that we don't even have the words to express ourselves."
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