“This isn’t the highest mountain in the area, but it’s the best location,” said Waldo County Emergency Management Agency Director Dale Rowley on May 11, as he surveyed the view from the the top of Aborn Hill — the site of a new tower bearing transmission equipment for the county’s emergency communications systems.

At 997 feet above sea level, Aborn Hill is the seventh-highest peak in Waldo County, but Rowley said its placement, midway along a ridge that runs from Dixmont to Camden, makes it an ideal site for a transmission tower. This is apparently no secret. Next to the county tower stands a microwave transmitter owned by Maine Public Broadcasting Network, another owned by WLBZ Channel 2, and a smaller unmarked tower.

Looking northeast from Aborn Hill, several distant transmission towers are visible, including a WABI Channel 5 tower on Peaked Mountain in Dixmont and the Maine Emergency Management Agency tower on nearby Mount Harris. Nearly every residence on the road leading from Route 137 to the top of Aborn Hill has a small satellite television dish mounted somewhere on the house.

The 140-foot Aborn Hill tower, which has been operational for roughly one month, replaces a smaller version of the same — 60 feet tall with a 20-foot extension — which stood less than 10 feet to the south of the new structure. According to Rowley, the increased height allows the antennae to be spread out, resulting in less interference in EMA and Regional Communications Center transmissions. The tower, he said, has a life expectancy of 100 years.

Construction on the tower began in December, using funding from a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant.

Waldo County owns one other transmission tower — a 40-foot mast that stands on the north side of the county’s complex on Congress Street in Belfast — and leases space on towers in South Liberty, Frankfort and Searsport.

On May 11, several county officials gathered at the site and, amid clouds of black flies, ran through a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony and toured the trio of outbuildings beneath the tower. The newest of these, a secondhand building shipped from Arizona or Iowa or Pennsylvania — no one was sure — contains in its climate-controlled interior the computers and other infrastructure related to the tower transmitters. Another shed-like structure houses a backup generator.

Rowley, County Commissioners Donald Berry and Amy Fowler, and Regional Communications Center Director Owen Smith were joined for the ceremony by representatives of the project’s contractors, Black Diamond Consultants of Waterville and NCS, whom the the county officials thanked for erecting the new tower. “When we build that next tower,” Rowley said as he shook hands all around, “I’ll give you a call.”