NTUA, Navajo Nation officials welcome completion of new cell tower in Beclabito

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Navajo Nation leaders and Navajo Tribal Utility Authority officials recognized on the completion of a new NTUA Choice Wireless tower on Feb. 18 in Beclabito.

FARMINGTON — Officials from the Navajo Nation and the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority recognized the completion of a new cell tower in Beclabito, part of an effort to strengthen broadband and cellular services in rural communities.

The 180-foot tower, one of three recently built on Navajo lands with federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds, is located along U.S. Highway 64 near the New Mexico and Arizona state line.

"Beclabito is fortunate to have a tower constructed in the community as it will enhance the quality of life for its members," chapter President Melissa Kelly said.

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Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty talks on Feb. 18 about federal coronavirus relief dollars being used to build a new tower for cellular and broadband services in Beclabito.

In her comments during the Feb. 18 event marking the completion of construction on the self-supporting tower, Kelly acknowledged the previous chapter administration, comprised of then President Raymond Charley, Vice President Hazel Sherman and Secretary-Treasurer Larry Jack, and community members who backed the project.

Throughout the event, officials focused on the tower's role in improving internet service for students, residents, businesses and first responders.

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Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez points at the new cell tower while talking about the project in the Navajo language during a Feb. 18 event marking its construction in Beclabito.

"In this day and age of COVID-19, we know it's very important that we get internet capability, access to our Navajo folks as many of our students are still at home, logging in to get their homework, to get their instructions on a daily basis," tribal President Jonathan Nez said.

Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty represents the chapter on the Navajo Nation Council. Kelly stood next to Crotty while she cut the ribbon during the event.

"Broadband is now considered a basic human right in our communities," Crotty said adding it will improve access for education, economic development and emergency response.

NTUA spokeswoman Deenise Becenti said the project cost approximately $953,000 and it is one of four towers built with funding the tribal enterprise received from the tribal government through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

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The 180-foot cell tower built by Navajo Tribal Utility Authority will provide broadband and cellular services to Beclabito.

The other towers were built in Pinedale in McKinley County, and in Arizona in an area west of Window Rock and in Wood Springs near Kinlichee.

According to a Feb. 9 progress report, NTUA has used CARES Act funding to connect 719 homes to the electric grid, 105 homes to cistern systems and 42 communities to Wi-Fi as well as completing 30 water line connections and providing off-grid solar systems to 300 homes.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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