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May 14, 2014

Brownsboro ISD seeks tower for Bear Radio program

Athens — With the clearing of each hurdle, Brownsboro Independent School District is one step closer to broadcasting over the FM airwaves on the eastern side of Henderson County.

The district was approved by the Federal Communications Commission to broadcast on 94.5 FM as KJBB radio, but it needs to build a radio antenna tower within the next calendar year to avoid losing the FCC approval.

Bear Radio director Perry Eaton spoke to the school board Monday night during their regularly-scheduled meeting.

“We are allowed to take the steps to put up our antenna for our radio station,” Eaton said. “We have been working on this for seven years. It takes the FCC a long time to get things situated, and open up the window for us to apply. We have the construction permit, so we are now able to put up our tower for our antenna to be able to have a radio station that will cover about a 10 to 20-mile circle.”

The school board approved a memorandum of understanding between the district and the City of Brownsboro for the tower that allows the city to lease property to the district.

If approved by the Brownsboro City Council, the memorandum would allow the district to lease property owned by the city for $1 and “other good and valuable consideration agrees to lease that location for a 100-year period to the district.”

BISD would erect the tower at its own cost on Browning Street. Much of the funding would come from money already raised during the initial launch of Bear Radio.

The proposed tower would also be used for BISD's transportation department communication.

Under the agreement, the City of Brownsboro would be responsible for access control to the site, with permission for BISD or its agents to conduct any maintenance or repairs.

BISD would allow the City of Brownsboro to install a repeater on the tower in order to augment the Brownsboro Police Department's radio coverage for its officers. The radio coverage would enhance safety and security for the school district and area residents.

“If we put it on their property, it puts the elevation higher and we would be able to cover almost all of our school district,” Eaton said.

Superintendent Dr. Chris Moran said one of the biggest challenges regarding the tower is cost, but it could help the district save up to $9,000 a year.

“If we want to displace the $9,000 or so dollars we pay every year for bus transportation, because we are renting that equipment and service for them. If we did it ourselves, that would be $9,000 that we are saving,” Moran said. “In talking about those things, it is really going to boil down to what we can afford.”

Moran said the district does not have all the answers yet, but the first step was to reach out to the City of Brownsboro with the memorandum of understanding.

“If in fact they are interested in taking another step, we would not do anything without coming to this board first and presenting the options, costs, making sure we can afford to pay for it or at least present the offset of the savings we would incur in by gaining transportation services.”

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