Anaconda's downtown on a summer day. The EPA released its new proposed plan for the Smelter City and is accepting public comment for the next month.

A lightning storm Sunday caused trouble for Anaconda police and the price tag to fix it could put a crimp in the county’s budget.

Tim Barkell, Anaconda-Deer Lodge County police chief, said lightning struck the cell tower cable on the C Hill on the south side of town Sunday morning. That damaged the repeater, which sends signals allowing police officers to communicate with the dispatcher.

Barkell said the cost to fix the problem is unknown at this stage.

But he said the damage means that officers’ hand-held radios don’t work once they drive beyond the east end of town. He said there is hardly any radio contact past the east end of Smelter City.

“That’s kind of important,” Barkell said.

Barkell said the problem has also impacted the county’s maintenance and vehicle shops as county workers also utilize the same radio frequencies.

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Joe Messina, National Weather Service meteorologist, said it wasn’t surprising Anaconda encountered lightning given that “it was a very active weather weekend.”

Messina said one-inch hail hit Butte on Saturday while quarter-inch sized hail pummeled Anaconda. He said the National Weather Service issued a severe storm warning for Sunday morning for the Smelter City.

Barkell said the main event over the weekend was the Brewfest, which was part of the Smeltermen’s Day celebration that started last week to honor the former smeltermen who toiled on “the hill.” But, he said it was a quiet weekend over all. 

Barkell said the department is hoping to get the problem fixed by the end of Monday. But he said that due to the damage, the department will likely have to get some new radios and a new repeater or two to be installed on the C Hill.

He also said he thought insurance might cover the repair costs.

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