Larry Rackley and TV towers on Toulon Peak
Larry Rackley and TV towers on Toulon Peak
Low-cost, over-the-air television should be more reliable thanks to new electrical upgrades on Toulon Peak. Funded by a modest county property tax, 21 channels are now available to locals with a digital antenna who can’t afford or don’t want costly satellite or streaming video services.

The TV District project has required many hours and long drives up a rough road for Pershing County Commission Chairman Larry Rackley. Calls from concerned viewers about weak or no television signals or the loss of a favorite channel could mean another visit to Toulon Peak.

The TV District lineup includes Reno news, entertainment and public television channels. Also available are two K14KQ channels broadcast locally by the Pershing County School District.

New, more powerful transmission equipment in Fallon is transmitting more reliable signals for Channels 11 and 21. Other Reno channels are transmitted from Slide Mountain and Virginia Peak. A generator purchased from the Elko Television District now provides backup power for all of Pershing County’s television receivers and transmitters on Toulon Peak, Rackley said. 

The Elko and Winnemucca Television Districts no longer rely on the over-the-air television signals from Toulon Peak. Those districts opted for a more expensive fiber optic network that could have included Pershing County but the price tag was too much for the county budget.

“We couldn’t afford the cost,” Rackley said. “It was very expensive. We had no way of getting fiber up to Toulon Peak anyway. You would have had to trench it in.”

Obsolete wiring, electric panels, circuit breaker boxes have been replaced making the Toulon Peak system, now entirely county-owned, more powerful and reliable for television viewers. Rackley drew a diagram to illustrate his recent reconfigurations and upgrades to the system.

“It was old stuff where something could easily have gone wrong,” he said. “Yesterday, we ran conduit and electric into here to power the main building. We’ve got power from the generator to this building and this building and we didn’t need two meters anymore so we’re saving money.”

An aging propane tank was replaced with a more affordable tank delivered right away by a local propane company. Next will be a maintenance contract for the county’s stand-by generator. 

“The county owns all of the system including the towers,” Rackley said. Any business that needs equipment on Toulon Peak will sign a lease and that means more revenues for Pershing County.

“Now, if we do find somebody that wants rack space to house their equipment for signal, we have space, which is good,” Rackley said. “These two pieces of equipment over here — one is Southwest Gas and the other one is Paiute Pipeline. They were up there last week checking their equipment and we now have a lease agreement with them.”

Rackley has no idea how many local residents watch the local over-the-air channels but he believes the number is increasing judging by community feedback. The signals are available throughout the Lovelock Valley and Rye Patch with some television signals reaching Imlay.

“Last night, we were at that Grange meeting and a lady came up to me and said she’s on antenna TV,” Rackley said. “She was asking me about Channels 11 and 21. They (local broadcast viewers) pop up all the time. They’re out there but we have no way of counting.”

Brookwood Motel/RV Park owner Nick Pavlovich likes the low-cost of the district’s over-the-air television but he misses a favorite movie channel called “This” that has disappeared from the lineup. He doesn’t watch the new “Comet” science fiction channel or the old sitcom reruns.

“It has been pretty weird lately. I’m having a hard time tuning in the aerial antenna but I don’t know if it was the trees or what,” he said. “We lost the movie channel. It was a decent channel and I always liked country and westerns. Now, there are no movie channels that I can find.”