Thursday, April 25, 2019

Cell Tower Informational Meeting

Last night's meeting on the cell tower to be located at Kelly Mill Middle School was an "informational" meeting. The meeting room (a portion of the room used by the School Board) was packed with parents (including some children and babies), neighbors, and interested community members.

No member of the Richland 2 School Board attended.

Richland 2's Director of Planning William Simon chaired the meeting, which was mostly informal and friendly. Speakers on behalf of the construction of the tower were Leonard Forkas, President of Milestone Communications, and Kevin McMannis, an environmental safety consultant.

Forkas outlined the procedure that has been followed to gain the necessary approvals for the tower to be built, starting with the Richland County Planning Commission in October 2018. In November they were at the Richland County Council. In January community notifications were mailed. (Some in the audience protested that they had not received notice.) In February a community meeting was held, and those receiving notice included the board chair.

If I understood correctly, two cell towers have already been built on Richland 2 school property; this will be the third. The tower will be constructed in accordance with an Request For Proposal (RFP) approved by a previous School Board.

If you are concerned about safety around wireless equipment, go to the website for this project,, and click on "Wireless Safety" in the left sidebar. Be sure to click on the link in Paragraph 2 about RF safety.

Many concerns and fears were expressed by those attending. Most of them were based on rumors, suspicions, and emotions. None was based on fact.

I managed to irritate just about everyone in the room by suggesting that parents needed to show up at School Board meetings and know what is going on. (It's too late to complain after the fact.) I also suggested that the FACTS about RF energy be considered, not just one's emotions about this project. I also asked how many use cell phones and even allow their children to use cell phone.

Isn't the perceived (but probably unfounded) worry about brain cancer much, much worse from a handheld cellphone than it is from a 195' tower located 300 feet from a school? But today just look around at all the adults, students and small children who are running around with cell phones stuck to their ears.

The tower will be built, and it won't be so bad as people think.

Director Simon acknowledged that the School District could have done a better job of communicating about the planned tower. I imagine the District will pay more attention to communications with parents and neighbors in the future.

Last night's meeting wasn't even posted on the District's website. And the library doesn't know who is using the District's main conference room at R2i2. Hint to Richland 2 School District: it's a common facility. Why not arrange for the library's telephone operator to answer calls about meeting room usage?

My thanks to The Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County for posting the announcement of last night's meeting on its Facebook page. That's how I learned of it at 5:05PM.