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19 September 2016

North Carolina: Hear Me Now: No Cell Towers on School Campuses

A committee of the Wake County Board of Education is
trying to decide whether to allow cellphone companies to
erect more towers on school campuses.
Harry Lynch hlynch@newsobserver.com
"Estimates are that Wake could get an additional $5.5 million in revenue over the next decade by allowing 20 new cell towers to be placed at schools."

Hear me now: No cell towers on school campuses – Saunders
by Barry Saunders, newsobserver.com,
19 September 2016

Goshdarnit, Timmy. You’ve got three ears! Why must I always repeat myself?

Don’t be surprised if, a few years hence, exasperated Wake County parents are saying that to their school-age children. A committee of the Wake County Board of Education is trying to decide whether to allow cellphone companies to erect more towers on school campuses, even though there remains trepidation over the towers’ long-term impact on health.

Proponents of placing the towers on campuses cite American Cancer Society studies that conclude there is no credible evidence that cellphone towers cause cancer, but many parents remain unpersuaded. Desiree Jaworski, executive director of the Center for Safer Wireless in Virginia. told me Friday that the ACS “quite frequently mentions that the studies are mixed... They state there doesn’t appear to be clear evidence of a link, but they do say there is a need for more definitive studies.”

When I finally reached Jaworski after two days, she told me she’d been on a hiking trip with her son.

Any cell towers near where y’all were hiking? I asked.

“Oh, we try to stay away from those,” she laughed.

That would be impossible if the towers, already pret’ near ubiquitous, spread to more schools. Parents and groups in Virginia, where Jaworski lives, are engaged in the same no-more-towers battle as some Wake parents and groups.

Yale researchers in 2012 released a study that said cellphone radiation exposure during pregnancy affects fetal brain development.

Although this was admittedly in ancient times – the 1970s – there was opposition to placing vending machines in our high school because of the presumed deleterious health effects. Hmmph, who knew sodas and Funyuns were unhealthy?

If the Wake school board is going to capitulate to capitalism in this manner, it should go whole hog. Why stop with radiation-emitting towers that may or may not be linked to cancer or may cause students to eventually bear offspring with a tail – or to at least transmit the evening news through the fillings in their teeth?

Say, that, at least, might help save on cable bills.

Once the tango with the towers accelerates and the board gets acclimated to those greenbacks rolling in, how long will it be before the board starts renting out space on the backs of teachers – no, literally, on their backs – so that every time one turns to face the blackboard students will read “Drink Coke”? After that, there’ll be ads on blackboards, hallway floors, even in school books: “After George Washington crossed the Delaware, the first thing he did was stop and have a steaming cup of Folger’s. Umm, Folgers. Don’t fight a revolution without it.”

Estimates are that Wake could get an additional $5.5 million in revenue over the next decade by allowing 20 new cell towers to be placed at schools.

First of all, that’s chump change. C’mon, guys: if you’re going to sell out, SELL OUT!

Second of all, don’t sell out: Shouldn’t some American institution be immune to the lure of easy money? It’s like fat dudes and Speedos: just because you can wear them doesn’t mean you should.

Third of all, will our desire to find any revenue stream besides raising taxes result in every square foot of salable space on our supposedly sacrosanct campuses being given over to the highest bidder – health risks be damned?

Why, that’s blasphemy! If education is as important as we say it is – and it is – we should be willing to pay an extra half-cent or so in taxes to ensure that schools, teachers and schoolchildren have everything they need. If such an investment is unacceptable, let’s just admit that we are more comfortable with the possibility of little Susie, Daquan and Jeffy possibly growing a big toe out of their foreheads than paying higher taxes.

As if the potential health risks weren’t bad enough, what about the aesthetics?

Bill Cosby once said there is nothing uglier than a 13-year-old boy. He said that before cell towers proliferated.

Betty Parker, Wake’s senior director of real estate services, insisted that the towers could be prettied up by disguising them as trees.

Yes, trees. “Any time I have seen cell antennas being disguised as trees,” Jaworski said, “it has looked horrible. Plus, the kids need to know where the tower is so that they stay a safe distance from it.”

Halleluyer! Who needs kids swinging from the branches of cell towers or building “tree” houses in them in the mistaken belief they’re communing with nature?

Of course, if we’ve got students who are fooled into thinking a cellphone tower is a tree, radiation may be the least of our concerns. Besides, we already know, thanks to the poet Joyce Kilmer, that only God can make a tree. Hit it, JK:

I hope that I shall never see

a cell tower disguised to look like a tree.

All the real trees have been cut with axes

but we’re erecting fake ones to lower our taxes.

They say that God has all the power

but only AT&T can build a tower.

Clover zoning board denies cell tower permit

Contentious zoning appeals board hearing Thursday in Clover where board denied permit to build controversial cell tower opposed by more than 40 residents.adys@heraldonline.com

Barry Saunders: 919-836-2811, bsaunders@newsobserver.com, @BarrySaunders9


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