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City set to approve 120-foot cell phone tower in eastern Lawrence; study finds Kansas among the top states in U.S. for teachers


Well, we have all heard about the dangers of talking on our cell phones while driving. Or about texting while driving. But for some reason, there is one cell phone-related driving danger that rarely ever gets discussed — a cell phone tower falling in front of your car. Fear not, Lawrence city commissioners will tackle that one tonight.

Commissioners will consider giving final approval for Verizon to build a 120-foot tall tower at 2001 Moodie Road, which is the site of the Ottawa Coop grain elevators. Commissioners gave the plans preliminary approval in July, but at that time asked Verizon to make a few changes to the exact location of the tower.

Commissioners at the time wanted to change the location of the tower to provide greater distance between the tower and a nearby building. Changes were made, but Verizon hasn’t been able to come up with a location that meets all the standard requirements for towers in the city.

Plans for towers are required to show where a tower would land in the unlikely event that a tower collapses. Standard city regulations call for the “fall zone” of a tower to be contained on the property where the tower is located. That’s not the case with these plans. The city’s planning staff has calculated that the fall zone for the proposed tower would extend five feet into the southbound lane of Moodie Road.

The issue, however, may not play much of a role in whether the tower wins approval. The city’s planning department, in a memo to commissioners, said “the risk of the tower falling into the southbound driving lane is very small in staff’s opinion.” The city can issue a waiver from the standard requirements, and that is staff’s recommendation on this project.

The Brook Creek Neighborhood Association also is recommending approval of the project. It likes this site much better than the previously proposed site at 1725 Bullene Avenue. City commissioners rejected that site after multiple concerns were expressed that the tower would be too near homes. Verizon has sued the city in federal court over that denial, but it is expected that case will be dropped if this location is approved.

So, while the chances of a cell phone tower falling in front of your car while driving are rare, I felt I should at least make you aware of the situation so you can have a plan. I know what my plan is: I’ll slow down to 45 mph and immediately take a picture and text “OMG!” and “WTF!” (which of course stands for “Why Tower Fall”) to everyone I know.

Commissioners meet at 5:45 p.m. tonight at City Hall.

In other news and notes from around town:

• There has to be a lot of teachers in Lawrence — the education capital of Kansas — feeling mighty good these days. After all, Kansas is one of the better places in the country to be a teacher. Maybe you have been too busy watching cell towers to notice, but Kansas has been ranked the 9th best state in the country for teachers, according to a new study by the financial website WalletHub.

The website looked at a variety of factors to compile their rankings. Here’s where Kansas ranked on the various metrics:

— 16th for average starting salary for teachers

— 25th for median annual salary for teachers

— 27th for the projected number of teachers per student by year 2020

— 11th for unemployment rate

— 17th for the 10-year change in teacher salaries

— 3rd for pupil to teacher ratio. The study found that only Vermont and North Dakota have better pupil-to-teacher ratios than Kansas.

The website used data from the Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Education Association, the National Center for Educational Statistics, among others to compile its findings.

Kansas fared better than any other state in middle America. Here’s a look at how others around the region performed:

— Nebraska: 18

— Missouri: 24

— Colorado: 28

— Oklahoma: 41

The latest study continues a trend – at least from WalletHub — of good marks for the state’s school system. Earlier this year, WalletHub ranked the state’s school system as the 12th best in the country. The website examined a host of federal statistics on test scores, pupil-to-teacher ratios, incidents of violence, dropout rates and other metrics. Kansas was the second ranked state in middle America in that study. Colorado beat Kansas by finishing as the No. 2 ranked system in the country. Other border states were Nebraska, 17th; Missouri, 28th; Oklahoma, 33rd.


Justin Hoffman 2 years, 7 months ago

Hmmmm. This goes against what all the "doom and gloom" liberals have been saying. Keep up the good work Kansas!!

Beth Ennis 2 years, 7 months ago

Justin, there is a difference between what Kansas teachers are being paid and the state of our schools. I don't think their salaries have gone down since Brownback took office, but I would like to see some of the teachers chime in here. I think the amount of money the state is giving the schools has gone way down, which affects things like supplies and building upkeep for the students. I'm guessing teachers are spending way more of their own money for things their students need that used to be provided. Also, low teacher to student ratios might just mean folks are either moving out of state or they are putting their kids in private schools, which is really what some GOP folks want, is the state to get completely out of teaching and leave it all to private schools. There is a billboard outside of Lawrence advertising for teachers in Missouri. I think it was put there to let Kansas teachers who are fed up with the small amount of funding they are getting to know there is a better place to teach. I'm also guessing that not all of the things that caused the rating are listed in the article, since only 1 area, student to teacher ratio was above the 9th ranking. I don't know how ranking pretty much in the middle of the pack for everything else mentioned gets us into 9th place. Chad, was there more than you were able to mention above that helped make the ranking determination? One last thought on this matter, there is no where in there where how well the students are doing plays into this. As much as I want teachers to love what they do and where they work (and get paid well for doing it) I am much more interested in having our children rank high in how well they are being educated. The children are our future and will be taking care of the country in a very short amount of time. Do we want under educated adults running our country? I know I don't!

Bob Forer 2 years, 7 months ago

Chad, i am shocked, absolutely sbocked, that you would inject a little raciness into your cornball humor.

You did provoke a chuckle from me.

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