Letter: Healthy kids or cell towers?

We care about the schoolchildren of Rappahannock. We are not against cell service for the county. We attended the Aug. 12 school board meeting because we have four grandchildren who attend or will attend Rappahannock County High School (RCHS).

As noted in that week’s Rappahannock News, we spoke up against allowing a cell tower at the high school because we believe that until science proves that a cell tower is not a health risk to children, we do not want our grandchildren to be guinea pigs.

Some health experts have identified nearly 40 possible cell tower health risks, from sleeping disorders, headaches, tinnitus and ADHD/ADD, to autism, birth defects, brain cancer, leukemia in children and Parkinson’s disease. (Note: Children are the most susceptible to risk. Twenty-two is the age science has determined that the skull of a child will be fully mature.)

A cell tower may also impact the health of teachers and staff at RCHS, but we are focusing on the children for now.

This is about being able to call 911 from a cell phone in Rappahannock while keeping our children safe. It’s also about the school board’s own strategic plan (including the goal to “Ensure a Safe and Healthy Learning Environment”) that should be driving their decision-making process.

This is not about anything technical, or about keeping Rappahannock County in a dome or in the 19th century, or a place where a woman in Woodville gets a flat tire on a lonely country road at night and is unable to make a call.

We firmly believe Rappahannock should be dealing with two separate issues: Improving cell phone coverage for the county, and the safe placement of cell towers.

We believe the school board is dealing with only one issue and should not be involved with getting cell phone coverage for the county, but should be deeply concerned about “ensuring a safe and healthy learning environment.”

After the meeting, a comment was made to us directly: “Why haven’t we heard from people who are passionate like you? You need to get a group of people together that share your opinions.”

We do not believe we should have to get a group together and fight the board on this issue. Until cell towers are proven to be safe by science — not by AT&T, or the school board — the county should not risk the health of any child. A school board that cares more about our children than they do about money should not need one outside person to tell them that if there is a 50-percent chance a child may get sick or die, you do not move forward with negotiations. To us it is that simple.

We believe the parents of this county have not spoken up because they were not notified of the impending negotiations with CWS for the installation of a cell pole at RCHS, and because the board didn’t ask for parental consent to risk the health of their child before moving forward with negotiations. Parents may also be confused about some of the issues.

Every parent should understand the following: First, the threat comes from the constant nature of the activity of the cell towers; they emit pulsed radio-frequency radiation 24/7. The closer a tower is to a school,  the more dangerous it is for children.

Second, the board members basically agreed that half the information they read on the web claimed cell towers were safe and the other half believed they were dangerous. Yet four school board members who are not experts in any field of science chose to ignore 50 percent of what they’d read when the board voted 4-1 to move forward with negotiations.

Third, a tower does not have to be physically located at RCHS to improve the county’s cell service or upgrade the school’s technology.

Last, we believe the only reason for negotiating with CWS boils down to money.

To protect our children, the school board should work with the board of supervisors to establish guidelines to create a safe perimeter around all schools, including day care centers in the county.

No matter which experts you agree with, the indisputable fact is that experts cannot agree on the safety of cell towers. So how can four school board members decide, without parental consent, to risk the health of 930 schoolchildren for money? This is an irresponsible decision, and we do not believe that electing board members gives them blanket permission to risk the health of your children.

Does any parent agree with us that until science proves the technology is safe, there should be no cell tower at RCHS? If you agree, be part of our group and contact your supervisor to urge that the county establish guidelines for perimeters around schools and daycare centers.

We are so lucky that we can improve cell service for the county and keep our children safe. We have more rural land than so many other counties. Let’s take advantage of our good fortune.

Mike and Sue Luthi

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