The northwest Iowa town of Hawarden is now the first city in Iowa to provide cellular telephone service to its residents through a wireless carrier. Hawarden will open its U-S Cellular dealership in city offices this weekend. Because of its location between the South Dakota border to the west and a series of hills to the east, cellular reception in the community was poor at best. City telecommunications director Chris Myers says cellular companies have been reluctant to place a tower there, and that’s why they decided to use a tower they city already owns.The tower has been online for about six weeks and the city negotiated with U-S Cellular to become an authorized agent for the company earlier this month. City officials felt the lack of cellular service placed Hawarden at a competitive disadvantage in the economic development arena.Hawarden is considered a pioneer in municipal utilities. The city has offered electric service for over 100 years and has delivered natural gas for over 60 years. In 1994, residents passed a bond issue to allow the city to construct the first municipally-owned telephone system in the state. Through that system, the city also provides cable television and broadband Internet access.
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