Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Public comment on Galena cell tower analysis

February 17, 2009
2647 Kimberly East Road
Twin Falls, Idaho 83301-7976

Dear Forest Supervisors:

Here are my comments regarding the Supplemental Analysis to the Environmental Assessment Galena Summit Communication Project. I hope that you will not throw my comments out due to any technicalities, because after reading and re-reading your instructions for submission, I find them difficult and think that others will also have trouble understanding them.

That being said, I have followed the Galena Cell Tower project closely, since Idaho Tower first proposed their project back in 2003. I have commented before on this with a great deal of passion, mostly in favor of the cell tower from a safety standpoint, though I also could not resist writing a couple of satirical pieces, so as not to be labeled a one dimensional character.

After expressing myself from several parameters, I forwarded my thoughts to an old friend. He responded insightfully, asking, “What are people’s real reasons for not wanting the cell tower?” His question brought me back to a day a few years ago, when one of the staff managers for a local newspaper where I worked, walked into Idaho Tower’s Ketchum office and saw that they were sharing the office with one of the newspaper’s chief competitors. The newspaper’s upper management then made the presumption that their competitor could profit off Idaho cell towers.

Shortly thereafter, I noticed that the editorials, written by the newspaper where I worked, took a stronger slant against cell towers. To be fair, our newspaper had written about politeness and etiquette in the woods before. However, this point definitely marked a shift in the newspaper’s attempts to shape public opinion, to be mostly against the Galena tower. The thing that set me off the most was when one of the longtime influential managers went off on an unreasonable rant, using strong expletives against cell towers. I discussed this at length with an award-winning reporter whose desk sat adjacent to mine. We both believed that logic behind his long rant was lacking and it made me feel for a minute that he had spit on the graves of the two girls I saw killed in a head-on crash several miles north of the SNRA Headquarters.

Another person of note, whose motives against the tower we should examine, is Greg M.
Greg, used to work as an emergency dispatcher for the City of Ketchum, and is a world-class athlete. I used to be Greg’s boss, when he worked part-time for the same newspaper. I found Greg to be an exemplary worker, and have enjoyed listening to some of his lively opinions, but the Galena Cell Tower is one subject on which I will have to disagree with him. My intuition tells me that for Greg as an emergency worker, to speak out against improved communications, he must have experienced some type of bad disagreement with those in charge. After all, most EMT’s live strong by the credo, that in emergencies “Every second counts.” Furthermore, on his last day as a Ketchum emergency dispatcher, I’m told by several reliable sources that Greg played “TAPS” over the entire 911-radio system. Although he may have had a legitimate beef with his bosses, how can we trust Greg’s judgment on this important issue with people’s lives at stake, when he has publicly expressed such disregard towards the whole 911 system?

Lastly, I ask that the Forest Supervisors in charge of making such vital decisions examine their own unspoken motives. Ask yourselves truthfully; how you feel about the people who live and visit northern Blaine County? Is there something inside you that does not wish them well? I hope that there isn’t, but I find your reasoning equally perplexing if you truly believe that the unsightliness of a reception tower somehow outweighs its vast potential for safety benefits and hope that you no longer play TAPS with our long overdue and crucially needed Galena Cell Tower.

Jim B.

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