Thursday, August 22, 2013

Feeling connected

Posted on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 4:00 AM

I read with interest the article about cellphones and towers in Hot Springs (see “Tower on tap in Hot Springs,” Aug. 8), because I am a part-time resident in that quirky rural Montana town.

I was distressed by the cartoon that said, “Integrity is free, but selling out pays cash money.” I do not know Glen Magera, but he certainly has the right and perhaps the duty to cash in on any free money that someone wants to hand him. He is a rancher, and money is not easy to come by in that profession. If he can get a few (or many) extra bucks from renting dry range land to AT&T, the more power to him. Hopefully he will spend the lease money at the few businesses that still survive in the economically blighted town.

Some residents are opposed to the building of an AT&T cell tower on Mr. Magera’s hill because they fear that the towers emit radiation. A quick Google search of “cell tower radiation” results in many stories about residents opposing cell towers in their neighborhoods. One newspaper in Vancouver, Canada, said, “Radiation caused by cell towers is too insignificant to cause health problems, according to Health Canada.” The Gazette in Maryland said, “According to the National Institutes of Health, some studies have found a faint link between exposure to electromagnetic fields and childhood leukemia, but other studies have found no link between such exposure and other childhood cancers.” Apparently any links between cell tower radiation and ill health have not been firmly established.

Some town residents complained that they were left out of the decision loop, as to whether to have a cell tower or not. Unfortunately for them, there are very few building codes in Sanders County. The Hot Springs town council was not included because the tower will be built outside of the city limits, where it has no jurisdiction. It seems that the lease between Mr. Magera and AT&T was a legal private contract that was approved by the state of Montana. We all have the right to complain but can’t do a damn thing about it.

Personally, I will use my cellphone in Hot Springs, because most of my work is derived through connection with the rest of the world. Now I have to spend five days a week in Missoula in order to work. I am selfish—I would rather spend those five days in the quiet of Hot Springs and just two days in the hustle and bustle of Missoula. I think more visitors will come to Hot Springs if they know they can be connected. We can always turn the cellphone off if we do not want the distractions of the interconnected world.

Jim Beyer

Missoula

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