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Briarlake Parents Unsure of Next Move in Cell Tower Fight

With the DeKalb County School System determined to let T-Mobile build a tower at Briarlake Elementary School, parents there aren't left with many options.

Parents at upset with the forthcoming construction of a cell phone tower on school property are unsure of their next move as the school system and T-Mobile move forward with their plans, a PTA board member said.

"We had hoped that [DeKalb County School System Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson] would have given this issue some time," said Stephanie Byrne, a Briarlake Elementary PTA board member. "She has decided that this is not worth her time."

Atkinson and a school system spokesman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month that the deal between the system and T-Mobile was considered done, and the system was not open to challenges.

"We respect the opinions about this," school spokesman Walter Woods said to the paper. "But at this point, we need to focus on things that haven't been decided yet. The board approved this only after extensive public comment."

But Byrne said parents at the school were led to believe that, if a tower had to be built, they would be allowed to offer input on where the tower would be constructed. Late last month, markings appeared on trees on the school's grounds, worrying parents that a site was already selected and T-Mobile was moving forward without them.

T-Mobile hasn't selected a site yet, said Shawn Blassingill, a senior development manager with T-Mobile in Atlanta. But any input from the PTA on the site's selection would need to go through the school board, he said.

"We're still tossing around ideas on locations on where it could possibly work," Blassingill said. "But all our discussions are between us and the school board."

Regardless, some Briarlake Elementary parents plan to attend the school board's meeting Monday with residents near the Margaret Harris Comprehensive School to continue their protests. The Margaret Harris site has already been selected, Blassingill said, but .

Byrne said the PTA has been looking into how cell phone towers affect students with hearing implants but have not received acknowledgment from the school system on that issue.

T-Mobile hopes to start construction on the Briarlake Elementary tower in the first quarter of next year, Blassingill said. A tower can typically be built in 30-45 days, he said.

Cheryl Miller December 02, 2011 at 07:12 PM
Jonathan, I suggest you read some of the nightmare comments that were allowed on the Patch in response to my blog many months ago as I tried and tried to alert the Tucker community and all the other schools. They were insulting, personal and uncalled for and they were obviously being made by a paid industry blogger, not a local resident. But, yet those comments remain. Any of my comments here should absolutely be taken as the truth and the person I was referencing has put her own name out there as a credible, trustworthy source of information. If that is not the case, then there is no reason to start leaving names off now. And it should be your obligation to find out if this is the case or else you are being played like everyone else. Yes, I'm mad. Isn't it about time the rest of you get mad, too? This is a violation of your rights, my rights and most importantly the rights of innocent children to attend a school that is safe.
David S December 02, 2011 at 07:23 PM
Come on, Cere, at least find some up to date research. "...were reviewed just recently by STOA..." and dated 2001? REPACHOLI - 1997? PERSSON 1997? And again, the Rodgers piece reads like a high school science paper and has 10-25 year old references.
Cerebration December 03, 2011 at 03:12 PM
I was simply responding to the "zero evidence" statement, adding that there have indeed been studies that make a reasonable person question the safety of theses towers. Some of us like to keep an open mind and discuss these things, rather than shut down discussion by mocking or demeaning those with questions or different opinions. That said, how about this report of a cell tower burning down due to a welding mishap in Gwinnett? http://www.ajc.com/news/gwinnett/cell-phone-tower-to-1249298.html Search cell tower fires on You Tube - - this isn't rare by any means.
David S December 03, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Cere: My comment to you was not meant to demean or mock. If you took it that way, I sincerely apologize. It’s just that I follow your blog and have come to expect more relevant links from you in your responses. I don’t always agree with you, but you normally provide very good, up to date references on your school blog. But here you cited a study done in 1997. Would you accept having your child using a 1997 science book in school? I wouldn’t. But, I agree that the “no evidence” comment was too absolute. As for being open minded, I try to read every link that folks provide with their comments. More often than not, they seem to reference that same, generally out-dated papers, articles and studies concerning cell phones. With cell phone technology changing as quickly as it does, these just don’t seem to be as relevant today. Cell phones today generally use a higher frequency and lower power – RF factors that are less likely to cause cell damage.
Cheryl Miller December 06, 2011 at 07:27 AM
If you want to know what is really outdated: try the FCC Telecommunications Act of 1996. This is the gospel that we are all being held accountable to when clearly the use of cell phones both in duration of time, age of the end user and widespread use throughout our communities when "mobile" or at home has changed. Should the safety standards be updated to reflect what we know today so that we are not being forever bound by what we "thought" was safe in 1996 based on the way people used their phones more than a decade ago? One thing that hasn't changed is that microwave radiation can and does cause cancer. You wouldn't expect a sane person to put a child in a microwave oven - why should we be expected to sit them under a cell tower all day and not expect any adverse consequences? Low level does not mean "safe." A prior belief in the research community that no longer exists today is that if the radiation was not enough to actually heat tissue, it was not able to cause damage. We now know that is not true and that at even the lowest levels, RF radiation causes changes to biological material. The extent of these changes and how long one must be exposed to the low levels before harmful effects are realized is still being debated. But, until the jury is back on that one, shouldn't we err on the side of caution? Isn't the label of "possible carcingen" enough to warrant caution when children are concerned?

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