Cell tower will go up at Greater Latrobe high

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 6:30 p.m.

Greater Latrobe school board members approved the installation of a cellphone tower on the roof of the senior high school, which could earn the district nearly $500,000 over 20 years.

Business administrator Daniel Watson told the board on Tuesday that the Verizon system, which looks more like an enclosed box than an antenna, will earn $1,500 per month for a five-year term. The district will have an option to extend the contract for three, five-year renewals.

The contract includes an increase each year of 3 percent, with earnings of $483,667 over the full 20 years, Watson said.

Verizon approached several area businesses to explore installation of the tower but ultimately chose the high school because it sits atop a hill, Watson said.

Director Kathryn Elder praised Watson's negotiations with Verizon.

Originally, the company proposed placing the equipment on the ground behind the junior high, but the district negotiated placement on the senior high roof to keep it out of sight.

“I think we should recognize all the work that's been done by the administration, especially by Mr. Watson, to get the details worked out so they were more advantageous to the school district than originally proposed by Verizon,” Elder said. “It's nice to know that we don't have to add a special, ugly little shed in our new athletic complex.”

Watson said the tower, which will be completed sometime within the next year, should improve cellphone service for the entire area.

“Any additional revenue we can get for the school” is welcome, Watson said of the contract.

Contract extended

Later, the board voted to renew Watson's contract for five years, beginning in July. He started as business administrator in September 2009.

Director David Moffa praised Watson's work with finances, citing recent transportation contracts.

“I marvel at your ability to work down the prices and find ways to save money,” Moffa told Watson. “We are so lucky to have you, the taxpayers are lucky to have you. I know you'll do a fine job moving forward.”

Other directors cited Watson's attention to detail and helpful attitude.

“Transparency in the public eye is trust, and we're glad you're transparent because you've earned a lot of trust,” Director Michael Zorch said.

New phones

The board approved an upgraded telephone system for Latrobe Elementary School.

The system, which is more than 10 years old, had some “major failures,” said Ken Millslagle, director of facilities and operations.

The board awarded the project to apparent low-bidder Westmoreland Telephone of Hempfield to replace the system for $12,830.

Millslagle said the high school is the last building that needs to replace the old phones, but the rest of the district will be connected on the same system once Latrobe Elementary's phones are installed.

Watson said the system should be in place this year.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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