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CBHS seeks wireless tower

Superintendent Kathleen Beane is attempting to negotiate with Milestone Communications to erect a wireless tower on the Colonial Beach High School campus. If successfully negotiated, Colonial Beach Schools would receive revenue for years to come. It would be the first tower by Milestone in the Northern Neck.
Founded in 2000, Milestone Communications claims to be the “leading developer of wireless towers in partnership with school and government landowners, enabling them to direct millions of dollars, annually, to educational and extracurricular activities’ budgets.”

Milestone’s approach involves setting up environmentally friendly wireless towers on the property and leasing space on the towers to wireless providers. The school or other property owner receives a regularly recurring annual revenue stream from carrier leases that can be used to fund educational and extracurricular activities at our schools, according to Interim Superintendent Kathleen Beane.

Beane told the School Board at the January meeting that she has had a conference with a representative from Milestone Communications regarding the possibility of building a tower pole on our football field to be used by telecommunication companies.

Beane told the board, “One carrier pays $30,000 annually to Milestone. Colonial Beach Schools would receive 40% of the yearly payment, which is $12,000 per year. We would receive a one-time payment of $25,000 on the first day of construction of a pole for one carrier. Any subsequent carriers added to the pole would result in a one-time payment to us of $5,000 per carrier. This is in addition to the $12,000 we would receive each year.”
Beane discovered the opportunity at a recent VSBA (Virginia School Board Association) conference. She said this group suggested putting up one pole at no cost to us, and it could be used to hold lights, as well.

School Board member Michelle Payne said that the company provides poles that actually look like trees.
School Board member Wayne Kennedy feels it would be a plus to the school, because additional poles could be added, increasing the current lighting, rather than replacing the four poles already installed.

Milestone’s website states that safety is of utmost concern to them and they recognize that there may be concerns and questions regarding radio frequency (RF) safety, especially as it relates to children and families near wireless tower sites.

Wireless towers (also called base stations) are two-way radios that communicate by producing RF energy at very low levels. Examples of common applications of RF include: Wi-Fi routers, AM/FM radios, television sets, and baby monitors.

Milestone states that, “In 2006, and again in 2012, RF measurements were taken outside and inside school centers where wireless infrastructures exist. The studies have shown that the RF levels in and around school centers were 1,000 times lower then the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) threshold. The FCC threshold is 50 times lower than levels that would cause harm.”

Beane said, “Our first hurdle will be to get them to decide that we are just as important as larger areas, such as Fairfax. While we don’t have the larger number of people, we still want to use our cell phones, iPads and computers.”

Beane said that Milestone has only looked at densely populated areas in the past, but with Verizon changing from 3G to 4G, Milestone is looking at where there are “holes” in the state of Virginia, which includes a lot of rural areas.

Beane added, “It doesn’t cost us a dime, and it would be a win/win situation.”

Linda Farneth

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