Cell tower improving service in Western Grayson

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U.S. Cellular adds coverage in Volney, Grant and other areas of county’s Wilson District.

By Patrick Smith

MOUTH OF WILSON — Many residents of western Grayson County know better than to try to text or make calls from their mobile phones due to a widespread lack of cellular service in the area, but the recent completion of a cell tower in the Volney community could be an important signal of improvement.
Grayson County Building Inspector Jimmy Moss said that the tower, completed a few weeks ago near the Log Cabin Store, has made cell service available to U.S. Cellular customers throughout much of the western end of the county.
Moss explained that the tower’s construction was originally approved in April 2012, but issues with the erosion and sediment control permit and the site location slowed its completion.
Moss said the tower project was spearheaded by former Wilson District Supervisor and Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Maynard, who passed away earlier this year, and that efforts are currently being put forth to name it the “Maynard Tower.”
Moss added that now that there is an option of making attachments, so more cellular providers may decide to connect and provide service for their customers in the area. He also said that a second cell tower is in the works for the area, but could not yet disclose its location.
“The people are thrilled to get [cell service] out there,” he said. “It has made a huge impact.”
Sources at Grayson Highlands School said that U.S. Cellular service is now available inside the school, and teachers have reported an even stronger signal outside. However, the situation remains the same in Whitetop, with service reportedly only reaching from Volney to about the entrance of Grayson Highlands State Park.
Scarlett McGrady, member of the Wired Road Authority and director of the Grant Community Computing Center in Troutdale, said the tower was intended to improve service primarily along the main roads in the Mouth of Wilson area; however, service seems to be spread further than anticipated. Although weak, she said she now has a signal at her home in Troutdale, which was unheard of prior to the tower’s construction. She also added that it “really improved in Flat Ridge.”
McGrady suggested that residents in the area who continue to have problems with weak service may want to consider purchasing a “cellular service booster” device, which can be installed onto a cell phone and boost signal strength.