Friday, April 29, 2011

Cell Phone Towers

DeKalb County School System will hold community meetings to inform county citizens of the proposal to install cell phone towers in various areas of DeKalb County to improve the communication service in DeKalb.  The presentation will be made by representatives of T-Mobile.  Meeting dates and locations are listed below.  

All meetings will begin at 6:00 pm.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011
  • Briarlake Elementary School
  • Lakeside High School
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. High School

Wednesday, May 4, 2011
  • Brockett Elementary School
  • Flat Rock Elementary School
  • Jolly Elementary School

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

  • Margaret Harris Center
  • Princeton Elementary School
  • Smoke Rise Elementary School

Wednesday, May 11, 2011
  • Narvie J. Harris Elementary School
  • Meadowview Elementary School
  • Medlock Elementary School
As I understand it, T-Mobile is interested in placing cell phone towers on the properties of the schools listed above. If this is your community, you may want to plan on attending.

Be aware that at some schools, they may be looking at putting two towers on the site.


pscexb said...

Thanks for sharing, themommy! Given that T-Mobile was recently acquired by AT&T, I wonder if this is to get a 'foot in the door' regarding towers on school grounds?

Voterwhocares said...

I have sent an email to Tom Bowen asking him to explain the reason our school system are installing cell phones on school property.

I have included one fact sheet on risk of cell phones. I am researching any possible adverse affects on our children.

I am concerned.

Stnuocca said...

Hopefully T-mobile or ATT will pay a fee for the towers. The fees should go to ALL school above/beyond the budget without the Central Office's greedy hand.

Now, the towers are everywhere....and our kids all have cell phones. Let's quit complaining about towers.

Cerebration said...

Speaking of T Mobile - check out their spoof of the Royal Wedding -

Cerebration said...

The profit from the towers reminds me of the profits we get from renting out facilities. For instance, we rented the Druid Hills property for a movie set. And we apparently rent the gym at the old Chamblee MS as we see it in use on Sundays. There are other things we rent for profit - I think these items need to be explicitly described in the budget (not just "other income" - I'd like to know from where and how much). Thus the need for the check register online! Deposits would have lines for descriptions and we could all see where money is coming from and where it goes.

Joseph Hunt said...

Dekalb's got enough vacant property, and soon-to-be vacant property that they don't need to put towers on functioning school properties.

I really do think those can be dangerous, though that's just my gut feeling. I've never paid attention to research this way or that.

Heck, I think tiny little cell phones are dangerous. Think about the size and power of the transmissions from those towers.

Joseph Hunt said...


On any given day there is movie production equipment parked at the old Jim Cherry center/Open Campus/DSA property on N. Druid Hills.

Who's benefiting from this rent? Is it supplementing some fringe benefits for the palace guard?

And BTW, when I see other systems announce their new budgets, they all mention cuts and furlough days. I don't trust Tyson and Turk's rosy budget predictions for next year. They don't seem based in reality.

Cerebration said...

Excellent idea, Blue. Place the towers on vacant property!

themommy said...

I think the challenge is that they need to put the towers where the signals are the weakest (or I swear totally unavailable by Lakeside.)

I am not saying this is a good idea-- just pointing out that it isn't the location that will drive the need, it is the need that will drive the location.

anonymous said...

To see where all the antennas / towers are within 4 miles, go to T-mobile has submitted an application to put a tower at the intersection of Clairmont and Briarcliff Rds.

Cerebration said...

Oh! I gotcha themommy... can't just put them anywhere - you have to put them where they need the signal. You're right - there's utterly no service at Lakeside. At least with AT&T.

Anonymous said...

The American Cancer Society seems to think there is no risk from a cell tower. More risk using a cell phone.

Dekalbparent said...

@ Blue... The equipment at the old Jim Cherry/DSA building is MTV filming "Teen Wolf". I have asked your question several times in the past, even of my BoE rep - and never gotten an answer (BoE rep said "I don't know anything about that")

@anon.... The tower at N Druid and Briarcliff is going up now - noticed it day before yesterday. It's one of those towers disguised as a pine tree - except it's standing by itself and it's a different color from the rest of the pine trees.

themommy said...

I added a note to the blog piece that I heard today that at some of the schools it could be two towers, but I am not sure if that means two separate towers or one tower with more wireless things on them.

Additionally, regardless of whether this is a good idea or not, someone better research what the rent should be.

We don't want to get ripped off and we certainly have reason to be concerned that system officials might not do their homework.

Open+Transparent said...

How is former BOE member Terry Morris connected to this deal?

Isn't Terry Morris very tight with Paul Womack?

Pattie Baker said...

This feels wrong. Just sayin'. I like to practice the precautionary principle (with children, especially) and my gut and current research analysis (which I did when considering community gardening under power lines) says putting these on school property is wrong. As for "everyone has cell phones", that is a decision that a parent can make. Once these towers are up, the exposure the kids get is not a decision the parents can make anymore. Children are our most vulnerable citizens, and they rely on us to protect them, and I support leaning on the side of caution.

Ella Smith said...

My concern is for the student and the evidence is still not there that the radiation is absolutely dangerous, but there is some evidence to indicate it could be so this is a "NO BRAINER." The students and employees' health is more important than any money we can get.

The money is not worth the "possible" damage that could occur to our employees and students particularly with two cell phones on a property.

We elect these school board members to look after the health of our student's also and there is too much research going on in this area and correlation of incidences around cell phone towers. Our students and employees are more important than that.

Ella Smith said...

When working on my masters degree in 2006 at Central Michigan University this was something the professor make the whole class research and come back with reports on all of us questioned the need to put any cell phones on school property when there could be a danger to the students and employees. This was totally unacceptable. It could only be for political favors for individuals on school boards with connections, because the money was not worth the health hazards "possibilities" to humans.

I copied this from: What Are the Dangers of Living By Cell Towers? by:

Says Dr. Neil Cherry, a biophysicist at Lincoln University in New Zealand:

"Public health surveys of people living in the vicinity of cell site base stations should be being carried out now, and continue progressively over the next two decades. This is because prompt effects such as miscarriage, cardiac disruption, sleep disturbance and chronic fatigue could well be early indicators of the adverse health effects. Symptoms of reduced immune system competence, cardiac problems, especially of the arrhythmic type, and cancers, especially brain tumor and leukemia, are probable."

Biomedical engineer Mariana Alves-Pereira says exposure to cell phone towers can lead to vibroacoustic disease. "From what I understand, some of the complaints are similar in what is seen in vibroacoustic disease patients, which are people who develop a disease caused by low frequency noise exposure," she said. Symptoms can include mood swings, indigestion, ulcers and joint pain.

Dr. Gerard Hyland, a physicist who was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in medicine, says, "Existing safety guidelines for cell phone towers are completely inadequate ... Quite justifiably, the public remains skeptical of attempts by governments and industry to reassure them that all is well, particularly given the unethical way in which they often operate symbiotically so as to promote their own vested interests."

According to the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, "Studies have shown that even at low levels of this radiation, there is evidence of damage to cell tissue and DNA, and it has been linked to brain tumors, cancer, suppressed immune function, depression, miscarriage, Alzheimer's disease, and numerous other serious illnesses."

According to Dr. W. Löscher of the Institute of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmacy of the Veterinary School of Hannover in Germany, dairy cows that were kept in close proximity to a TV and cell phone tower for two years had a reduction in milk production along with increased health problems and behavioral abnormalities. In an experiment, one cow with abnormal behavior was taken away from the antenna and the behavior subsided within five days. When the cow was brought back near the antenna, the symptoms returned.

Incentives for Cell Phone Towers

Why would a church, school or other private property allow a cell phone antenna to be placed on the grounds? Cell phone companies pay "rent" for their placement that can range anywhere from $800 to $2,000 a month. This can mean all the difference for an under-funded school district or church.

Still, many people are wary that the incentives do not come close to matching the potential risk involved. This includes the International Association of Fire Fighters who, in 2004, came out against the use of firehouses for cell antennas "until a study with the highest scientific merit" can prove they are safe.

These sentiments are echoed by residents of St. Louis where T-Mobile plans to put a cell site on an 89-year-old church. "That revenue is in exchange for our potential well-being, our peace of mind and our property values," said resident David O'Brien. "None of us are willing to take that risk."

Ella Smith said...

Open and Transparent I think you are right on. I said the same thing. This came up before and I love her dearly but I do believe she wanted the towers at Lakeside. Who is connected with the phone company who has connections on the school board. This is the question. Who is the manipulator on the school board to get this thing on the agenda and trying to get it past? To put this many cell towers on our school property is wrong.

fedupindcss said...

O&T--where did Terry's name come up?

Longtime said...

So, I guess we just tell T-Mobile we're not interested in a potential cash cow.
One commenter thinks they want to install cell phones (rather than towers) and apparently hasn't read his own sourced factsheet, which basically concludes that there is no link between cell phones and cancer. This includes a multi-year study that spanned 13 countries.
One says he thinks cell phone towers are dangerous but has never paid attention to any research.
One says it just "feels wrong."
And one, God Blees her, says there's no evidence that the towers are dangerous. but refusing T-Mobile's offer is a "no brained." she quotes a number of seemingly educated folks with opinions, but cite no studies or other evidence to back them up.
At least consider this: At a rate of $2,000 per month per cell tower (I think we could get 2-3 times that), this would be nearly $300,000 a year. And, if we refuse T-Mobile's offer, the towers will still be built - just not on DCSS property.
If you're really concerned about cell phone towers, you might want to check out the website cited above, There are currently 137 towers within a 4 mile radius of Lakeside HS. Some are paging, some are microwave, but most seem to be cell phone towers. Is one more going to be a "killer?"

Open+Transparent said...

Can't reveal my source. Can just say Terry is part of this and her BFF Paul Womack is carrying the water for the cell phone towers for her at alarming speed. And for so reason Womack's enemy on the board Gene Walker is also pushing hard to get the cell phone towers approved ASAP with little public scrutiny.

Someone else asked this, but with all the unused DCSS properties (and the system won't share the list with the public), why not put the cell towers there, away from kids?

Open+Transparent said...,170759

The proposed budget for the 2011 to 2012 school year topped the agenda of last week’s DeKalb County Board of Education meeting.

The consolidated budget totals $1.15 billion with $789.5 million designated for general operations.

“The $789 million is after the $28 million budget amendment from when we started the school year,” Marcus Turks, chief financial officer said. “When the [$18 million] came in for the Education Jobs Act in October, we dispersed those in December.”

Turks said an additional $10 million from property tax was also included within the amount for the budget amendment.

General operations funding for the upcoming fiscal year increased 1.93 percent from the previous year.

The increase is due to more received revenue than the district planned for along with salary, benefit and other improvements added to the budget.


1) We need an online check register!!

2) "Other changes include an increase in health insurance rates, AP exam costs, band and orchestra equipment and uniforms, parts and supplies, legal fees, fingerprinting and criminal record checking, school crossing guards, pre-kindergarten and SACS district accreditation."

Why are we paying for band uniforms??? C'mon parents, pay for your own darn kids' band uniforms! How many times do they even wear them? For a few football games and that's it!!
Enough with the welfare state.

3) "Outside of general operations, special revenue is budgeted for $98.6 million, for debt service, $91.6 million, capital outlay $105.3 million food service and athletics for $51.1 million, and trust and agency for $21 million."

Over FIFTY FREAKING MILLION for athletics? I can hear David Montane's head explode. What activity fees are being charged? Let's see where booster club money and concession revenue goes. You won't like it.

DCSS Athletics desperately needs a forensic audit, and a very public one.

There has been nonsense spending here for years, mainly on football. The public would freak if they had an online register.

DCSS Athletics Director Ron Seebree, while a nice person, is so far in over his head that's its painful. Football is king in DeKalb, and that's where the money goes.

DeKalb better hope no parent of a female athlete makes a Title IV inquiry on equitable spending on girls sports in DCSS.

4) I guarantee you if DCSS ever used an online check register, parents and taxpayers would hep find millions and millions in cost savings.

We ashould all be furious on the amount spent on and by Audria Berry's no return on investment Office of School Improvement.

Why do we collectively not care about the bloat and waste in the DCSS budget?

Why do we allow a felon like jay Cunningham and Gene Walker (harassment lawsuits, Sembler, DeKalb Development Authority, etc.) to spend a billion dollars a year of our tax dollars with no transparency??!!

Gayle said...

Is DCSS picking up the tab for the 20 days of Pre-Kindergarten that were cut from the state budget? DCSS really needs to let this go out of the schools and let the private sector take this on like the other counties have done. Pre-K space is not funded by the state either. This is very important since so much of our space is not getting funded with the under enrollment issues.

Ella Smith said...

Both Paul and Walker want the cell phone towers.

Terri wanted the cell phone towers several years ago when she was on the board and they did not go through at that time due to health concerns. As well as I remember Dr. Lewis pulled it himself once he read up on the negative evidence out there.

However, this is about doing something good for ATT and the businesses in Dekalb. I would have to do see a great deal of research before I could make up my mind on a topic like this, but I am definitely concerned with the research out there which indicates that these cell towers could be danagerous. Could or possible is enough reason for the school board to say "NO" in my opinion. We are dealing with the health of our students.

shark bait said...

Okay, you have to admit it is pretty funny for "Open+Transparent" to say:
"Can't reveal my source."

themommy said...

Just to clear up the uniforms -- they are only replaced about once a decade. They don't belong to the kids -- they belong to the program and they are very expensive. DCSS has gotten very far behind on refreshing these things.

The question might need to be asked, is there a better way? Matching track suits, shorts and tops, etc, but the culture of the marching band world, high school and college, includes these uniforms.

Even when times were good, most bands in DeKalb were far larger than the amount of uniforms DCSS purchased == so the parents are raising money to make up the difference.

Extracurricular activities are an important part of high school.

Open+Transparent said...

shark bait: You got me on that one. Well done.

Ella Smith said...

However, the Lakeside Soccer players either have to raise so much money or are strongly encourage to donate about $300.00 to the soccer booster club for funding their program while programs like the band and football get many funds. It does seem a little unfair to me as we all pay taxes and football parents should have to raise their share amount of cash also.

teacher said...

My small town high school does not replace uniforms even every 10 years. We as kids were responsible for them and had to return them the way that they were received or we paid for it. Our uniforms were many decades old and that was okay, because they are not worn that often and don't get the wear and tear as sports uniforms get. I believe that we are spending too much money on things like this. It's nice to replace them every 10 years, but is this something that we can really afford right now? I think not.

The board working on cell phone towers at our schools when there are so many other important things that truly need their attention and this is just a diversion from what is really important-who will be our new superintendent and how are we going to make our schools more equal and better.

Cerebration said...

Interesting -- Stan Watson uses Chapel Hill MS for his Saturday meetings... Are we having to pay staff to open the building and stay there with his group? I'm all for community meetings and sharing community buildings - but curious about the logistics and the costs.

Stan Watson's
DeKalb Legislative Community Cabinet & Breakfast Meeting
**New Location - Chapel Hill Middle School**

Meeting Theme:
Senior Citizen Appreciation/
Older Americans Month

Honorable Jeryl Rosh
DeKalb County Probate Court

Derrick Alexander Pope
The Pope Law Companies Inc.

LeRoya Jennings
Community Prosecutor
DeKalb County Solicitor's Office

Special Entertainment
Lou Walker Senior Center Choir
When and Where

Saturday May 7, 2011

9:00 am to 11:00 am

**New Location**

Chapel Hill Middle School

3535 Dogwood Farm Road
Decatur, Georgia 30034-6405

For additional information and/or directions, please call: 404.371.3681 or 404.371.2988

Dekalbparent said...

Public meetings can be held in DeKalb schools - you schedule it with the school.

HOWEVER, yes, it does cost money to have staff in, lights/heat/AC on, etc., so there is a charge. This charge is high enough that several organizations (our civic association, for example), have chosen to go elsewhere.

HOWEVER again, I have heard that there have been meetings that there was no charge for - it may depend on who you are and who you know.

Ella Smith said...

And what bills you stopped.

Cerebration said...

Here's a good article on the subject from Briarcliff Patch -

T-Mobile Proposes Cell Tower at Lakeside High

The plan has already been proposed to the county's board of education and Lakeside Principal Joe Reed. Reed shared a story about a student who recently had a seizure outside the school in an area lacking in wireless signal strength. To call for help, Reed had to run back into the school building and use a landline phone. Another school-specific concern is that none of Lakeside’s athletic fields have lighting, so Reed wanted to know if T-Mobile could integrate lighting into a potential tower, which they can.

Leaflets distributed at the event explained that property values are not adversely affected by the construction of a cell tower. In fact, real estate agents often use wireless signal strength as a factor in presenting homes to prospective buyers.

Another possible concern is about the issue of electromagnetic and radio frequency emissions from a tower.

“We operate these facilities well below any [electromagnetic emission] guidelines,” said Paul Hajek, senior manager of radio frequency design engineering for T-Mobile. He added that the Federal Communications Commission has very strict standards regarding radio frequency emissions and that T-Mobile towers operate within them.

A tower emits about 0.1 microwatts per square centimeter of radio waves. By comparison, a wireless router emits 0.13 microwatts per square centimeter, a cordless phone emits 15 microwatts per square centimeter and a police radio emits 250 microwatts per square centimeter. This low amount is because of the tower’s height. Blassingill also said towers are monitored around the clock for possible spikes in emissions and that T-Mobile conducts emission studies before and after towers are built.

Click the link to read the entire article.

Unknown said...

Concerned parents - please call 11 Alive news desk and let them know about this. A news crew was at our school last night but because we had such low attendance they left. Parents were not aware that the county was actually entertaining the idea that these towers would go on active school property...yikes! Get the word out!

themommy said...

Where were all those Lakeside and Fernbank parents who were so concerned about redistricting? Not so concerned now...

sharon said...

Cell phone towers pose much less risk than using a cell phone. Can you all find another windmill? Or are the paranoid schizophrenics out to get you?

Cerebration said...

In the above referenced article, this is revealed:

Blassingill said that DeKalb County has very strict rules against building telecommunications structures in places zoned for residential use. This is why T-Mobile began to look at schools for locations.

Cerebration said...

Hmmm. Not so sure Sharon. Info can be found on both sides of the debate. This article talks about studies conducted in Germany and Israel that show some risk with cell towers.

Cell Phone Towers: How Far is Safe?

fedupindcss said...

The issue in Dekalb with cell towers is likely the size and height issue. No residential area wants one, and Dekalb (sorry, Elaine) is a bedroom community with large swaths that don't have commercial tracts, this is why there is a huge dead zone in the area around Lakeside. This is also why phone companies go to churches and schools to get a foothold into residential areas. So it has nothing to do with the "safety of the children." This is a business decision, pure and simple. The phone companies want better reception so more people will get their cell phones in a particular area. Kids having seizures make it an easier sell.

I am sure the folks who live in direct proximity around these schools are thrilled at the prospect of a big old tower looming over them.

Anonymous said...

Question for the blog:

Should the funds generated from the towers go directly to the schools that are housing the towers or should the funds go back to DCSS to share with the entire school system.

Big argument with BOE on this question.l

JSlasher said...

Great! Nausea, dizziness, cancer, epilepsy, Alheizmers? Schools somehow paid for what they needed before cell phone companies.
They need to stick this stuff on vacant lots. And if there are no vacant lots, then the county needs to CONDEMN them so that these towers aren't blasting this radiation so close to them on a daily basis. Students can CHOOSE whether they are exposed to radiation when they use a personal cell phone. But are FORCED to be exposed by law when it's on school property.

Anonymous said...

What everyone seems to be missing is that this is not a matter of improving coverage for T-mobile - it is about forming a monopolopy by AT&T which is bad for EVERYONE. T-mobile doesn't mind harming its reputation by being the "bad guys" and asking to place towers at elementary schools and upsetting the public. That sounds strange for the company that has built its reputation on superior customer service, doesn't it? That's because within 6 months, the government is expected to approve the merger between ATT&T and T-mobile. Once that goes through, T-mobile no longer exists, but AT&T gobbles up all their tower locations which they don't even need! Then, they lease the space to every small company that doesn't have the money to buy off the schools, or have morals not to be the ones to go into communities and ask for such an outrageous thing like building a tower outside an elementary school. Plus, after T-mobile has offended everyone or ripped them off by not offering enough when you consider how much they will soon be leasinig the space for, everyone will be wise to the game and prepared with the community response of "no, we don't want a tower here." A telecom monopoloy is bad for all of us. That's why the government had to break it up in the past. It means higher prices, lower customer service and no where else to turn. I don't know if the school board realizes this, but why would ANYONE make a deal with a company that has already been announced to being merged with another? If anything, you would want to deal with the future contract owner, not the one that will soon have all its employees laid off!

And, has anyone also thought of all the people who will be now allowed onto school property without a background check? Think of all the contractors, service personnel, etc. who will be providing regular maintenance for the tower... what will be the process for checking them in, making sure they are who they say they are? How long will it take before some petifile or divorce parent seeking to kidnap a child reaizes that there is an easy acess to school property? I urge everyone to protest this decision on June 6 at the school board meeting. It is bad for us all. said...

Please help the 9 remaining schools stop the cell towers that were approved for space on school grounds by the DCSS just prior to the new superintendent taking office.

Sign petition at: and "like" the group Get the Cell Out - Atlanta Chapter on Facebook for updates.

You can also send a letter or make a phone call to voice objection by contacting the people on this page :