Leaning cell phone tower closes school, roads

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. (KSDK) – Students at Lone Dell Elementary School will attend class at another location Thursday due to a leaning cell phone tower on the property.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office was called to the 2500 block of Tomahawk drive in Arnold around 2:45 p.m. Wednesday for the leaning tower. The tower is owned by US Cellular and on the property of the Fox C-6 School District.

A US Cellular engineer determined the tower failed its stability evaluation, so Tomahawk and Gary roads have been closed in case of a collapse.

The cell tower, reaching 160 feet tall, is being watched through the night and Thursday morning when US Cellular workers are expecting to start work. The leaning tower sits in the front yard of the Lone Dell Elementary school and if it falls it could hit a house or two.

"It's pretty close its right across the street," says Shelby Black, who lives in the house directly across from the tower.

She says this news is no surprise.

"It's been here, we've lived here for about three years now and it's been like that and it's been leaning," she says.

Captain Ron Arnhart with the Jefferson County Sheriff's office says they were notified after US Cellular workers told school officials that the tower was leaning.

"The worry is that with the storms, possible storms high wind this evening and throughout the night, that it could possibly fall, that is the risk," said Capt. Arnhart.

Even our camera sitting at ground level looking up caught the tower swaying in the wind. If the tower were to fall, the school is out of reach.

"The odds of it falling are kind of none," said Black.

Just in case, school at Lone Dell Elementary is being moved Thursday.

"They are just going to have the children attend at the Rickman Auditorium," said Arnhart, which is located at 745 Jeffco Boulevard in Arnold.

As for the leaning tower of Arnold, US Cellular crews are expected to start working on the structure early Thursday morning. The road in front of the school, Tomahawk Drives is currently closed in front of the school but should reopen sometime Thursday.

This is the statement US Cellular sent to NewsChannel 5:

"Through a routine inspection of our cell tower located near Lone Dell Elementary School, we discovered that a portion of the tower was leaning. We notified the school of the problem immediately and recommended that we fix the tower as soon as possible. This requires us to bring in cranes that would block access to the school and to a portion of Tomahawk Dr., requiring the school building to be closed tomorrow. We understand that the school was already scheduled to be closed on Friday. A crew will be on site to assess the tower and begin repairs tomorrow morning and we expect work to be completed before school begins on Monday. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to have the tower repaired as soon as possible."


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