Fellsmere leaders, ROTC gather to celebrate tower, partnership

FELLSMERE — Tucked away in a stand of trees not far from County Road 512 and Interstate 95 stands a tower about 40 feet tall.

Standing atop that tower Monday was Fellsmere City Councilman Fernando Herrera clutching a black rope and clad in a camo helmet. For a moment he stood there, his toes barely touching the edge of the tower as he dropped himself over the side. In a matter of just a few seconds, the councilman had successfully rappelled down the side of the tower to the cheers of onlookers.


“Just like Rambo!” one Florida Institute of Technology Reserve Officers’ Training Corps member called after Herrera once his feet touched solid ground.

“He’s like an old pro,” ROTC Battalion Commander Scott Caldwell said.

Laughing with relief, Herrera stood still, looking up to the top of the tower he had just conquered.

“It’s really fun,” he said. “I really enjoyed that.”

Later in the morning, Herrera attempted to scale the climbing wall on another face of the tower.

“He did alright,” Commander Caldwell said.

The morning served as a meet and greet of sorts between FIT’s ROTC members and City of Fellsmere leaders as a “thank you” of sorts between the two for the partnership that brought about the observation/rappelling/climbing tower at the Fellsmere Preserve.

The tower, located due west of the massive cell phone tower disguised as a pine tree, is the first of what FIT hopes will be more equipment to be installed at the site.

Two years ago, Commander Caldwell applied for a $1 million grant to renovate the ROTC’s current facility on the school’s campus. Due to a paperwork glitch, $935,000 was awarded – but could not be used for the planned renovations.

Instead, Caldwell was told to purchase equipment, including the tower. With the remaining funds, he hopes to buy a couple obstacle courses along with a Leadership Reaction course.

“It would be the best adventure course,” Caldwell said if all the pieces were installed at the Fellsmere Preserve.

“We just don’t have the space for it” on the school’s campus, he added.

Already, FIT’s ROTC members routinely come out to the preserve for tactical and land surveying training. Adding the tower – and later the other obstacle courses – the members won’t have to travel to different locations for training.

While Commander Caldwell sees the potential for training for his ROTC members, Fellsmere Police Chief Scott Melanson can see the same for his police force.

“We don’t have a lot of need to climb and rappel,” Chief Melanson said, but that does not mean the officers wouldn’t benefit from using the course.

“I’d like to see that,” he said of bringing his officers out for training once all the equipment is in place.

Fellow Councilman Joel Tyson was also on hand during the morning event, though he declined to scale the wall.

Tyson said he’s been asked by many in the community what the tower was for. Now with authority, he can tell them what its purpose is because he’s seen it with his own eyes.

“This is fantastic,” Tyson said.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment