History of the Boundary County Translator District
In the early spring of 1966, the late Robert Myers chaired a meeting of concerned citizens in the Boundary County Courtroom for the purpose of forming a non-profit association. The goal of this association was to fund, construct, and manage a small translator system on top of Black Mountain for the common good of the county. Ray Sims was elected president of the association, and a board of directors consisting of 9 members was appointed.
In early May, with snow still deep on Black Mountain, a site survey to determine location of the building and antenna system was made. The Translator Association hired a communications engineer out of Wenatchee to plot and design the first translator system. However, the association was fortunate to have two local men who became the key to the successful construction of the site – Harold Buroker and Clem Mostek. These two gentlemen along with countless other volunteers are the true pioneers of the association’s goal to bring reliable television reception to Boundary County. A whirlwind effort during spring and summer of the associations first year brought three television channels, 9, 11, and 13 to Boundary County on August 18, 1966.
In spite of the stoic effort of the Translator Association Board of Directors to maintain the translator site, it became evident that in order to move forward, a more equitable form of revenue was needed. Our state legislature passed a bill (House Bill 251) which authorized the formation of translator districts funded by a service tax imposed on all that use the service. Even though the association had grown to over 450 members over the previous 3 years, there was not enough revenue to maintain a viable service to the county.
So, in order for the association to garner the 850 signatures required to form a tax funded translator district, they once again launched a heroic effort. The petition effort was successful and the association voted to remain in business until December 31, 1969, then the new Translator District would take over on January 1, 1970.
This transition went very smoothly as the new Translator District board of directors, chaired by Warren Truesdell began having planning and transition meetings beginning in July 1969. First tax levy for the new district was set at $10.00. By mid January of 1970, all translator equipment and resources were transferred to the new Translator District and the Translator Association was then officially dissolved.
One of the first orders of business of the new Translator District was to upgrade the transmitters from 1 watt to 10 watts of power to enhance television reception within the county. From then on the tasks and problems facing the board have been mostly keeping the translator site updated with the never-ending changes in communications technology, and maintenance and expansion of the physical plant on Black Mountain.
In 1972, Public TV Channel 56 was added to the translator system. 1972 also saw the first major upgrade of adding a modern antenna system to the site. Two years later there was a major upgrade of receivers and transmitters to replace the original outdated models which had been installed in 1966.
In 1979, the County Commissioners reduced the board in size to 5 members.
In 1984, a propane fueled 12.5 kw Onan Generator was purchased and installed at the site to replace the back-up battery system which over the years had become unreliable. This generator is still in operation and looks just as new as the day John Graham installed it atop Black Mountain.
In 1992 the translator board purchased and installed new antenna systems at Naples, Mount Hall, and Evergreen schools so the students could watch educational programs. In addition, a new antenna was also put up at the Senior Citizens Center.
In 1993, the board’s chairman, Tom Hollingsworth began a series of negotiations with the Forest Service and US West to construct a state of the art 12X36 communications building. These negotiations lasted over 3 years. The Chairman and Translator Board’s efforts in those long and sometimes frustrating negotiations netted our county an estimated overall saving of $50,000. In addition, all equipment is now housed in a secure and weatherproof modular building with room for future expansion.
In 1999, Johnnie Tesar, Dick Granthan, and Eric Christenson informed the Translator District their small community could no longer maintain the Moyie Repeater Site. Eric Lederhos was tasked to survey the site and he reported the site needed a complete upgrade. So, new collector panels were purchased and installed along with a 300% increase in battery banks. A small concrete vault was constructed to secure the new equipment and provide protection from the elements. Modern antennae system and auto-tilt solar panels to automatically clear the collectors of snow were also installed. The era of trudging through deep snow to clear the collector panels and replace batteries was finally over with.
In 2000 a new 100’ antenna tower was constructed atop Black Mountain to provide the Translator District even more room for expansion in the never-ending effort to stay ahead of changes in technology and systems hardware.
This history continues with the current Chairman and Board of Directors just as dedicated and progressive as were the fine group of county citizens who formed the original Translator Association in 1966.