Yes, 1 foot is plenty close, within 3~5 feet is a good idea. Make sure to use "drip loop" in the feedline from antenna to preamp input so water runs off instead of "into" the connection to preamp. Personally, I generally perfer to use a preamp with a 300 ohm input+75 Ohm output, using a short piece of 300 twinlead to connect antenna to preamp, then coax between preamp+TV/Devices. You can pretty much count on the 300ohm~75Ohm conversion via a PCB(printed circut board) in a quality preamp being "good" and not incurring any additional losses on such an such channel, whearas you can pretty much count on add'l losses occuring on certian frequencies(you won't know which ones) from Ferrite core baluns(matching transformer) like the one you bought from radio shack.
Lowes has CM3041DSB which looks to have good specs for your location as well as 300ohm input - You'll of course need a short piece of 300ohm twinlead, RS has it IF you don't have a piece lying around. I use twinlead with as many "strands" in the wire as you can find. Anyway, they CM3041DSB at Lowe's Middletown store - Here's the link(hope it works) :http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?actio...DSB&lpage=none
Specs for it on this page from CM :http://www.channelmaster.com/Pages/TVS/SpartanAmp.htm
Here's the best 300Ohm twinlead RS has - unfortunetly you probably need to buy a lot more of it/for it(it shows $7.99 for 50 feet you only need a few feet of it) than you'll actually need, and I would get their more expensive stuff which is foam insulated. The non-foam insulated stuff is VERY lossy when it gets wet, and generally is not very good stuff :http://www.radioshack.com/product.as...5Fid=15%2D1174
I don't think Lowe's has any twinlead, but not sure ... they might.
Some other good preamps would be CM7775, CM7777, or CM7778. CM's "Titan2" series. These have a 75 ohm input from antenna(so you'll need to use your "current" matching transformer+a short piece of coax with F-connectors on each end to hook antenna to preamp), and 75 ohm output.
CM7775 is UHF only, and is a good choice for Dayton Digitals as it doesn't pass VHF at all - This can be a good thing "overload wise", since VHF signals(there will be some there, even with a UHF only antenna) don't "effect" the maximum signal input level of amp. However, it can be a bad thing if you ever want to use the amp, or pass VHF signals through the amp(I'm not sure whether CM7775 does VHF pass through w/o amplification or not, my Winegard AC-4990 preamp does not pass through VHF signals at all) in "future" applications you might have for it. Solid signal has CM7775 :http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_disp...=&PROD=ANC7775
CM7778 Might be a good choice for you as well. I use one for a VHF/FM antenna and am happy with it. You can set it to use either a "seperate" VHF input for VHF only --- or a "combined" VHF/UHF input for both VHF/UHF amplication). It is a bit lower gain than CM7775 or CM7777 and it's specs are identical to the 3041DSB, (except CM7778 has 75 ohm input instead of 300 ohm input) Which may be a good thing for your location, as you may not want TOO much gain or things could be "overloaded". Solid Signal also carries CM7778, I got mine at Dayton Wintronics, which is a "full line" CM distributor :http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_disp...=&PROD=ANC7778
CM7777 has same performance as CM7775 on UHF, but also does VHF amplification. It has 2 inputs, it can be set to use one input (antenna) solely for UHF and a seperate antenna/input for VHF, or you can use one input for both VHF/UHF. This one is often a good choice if you are using(or adding a VHF antenna in the future) seperate VHF/UHF antennas in the future/etc/etc/. Here's info on it from Solid signal :http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_disp...=&PROD=ANC7777
Here's the specs from CM on CM7775, CM7777+ CM7778 :http://www.channelmaster.com/Pages/TVS/TitanAmp.htm
Winegard and blonder-tongue makes some nice preamps as well.
Info on winegard amps here( Note : I use a Winegard AC-4990(old model, no longer available) UHF preamp for my "main" UHF antenna and am very happy with it). There is a Winegard Distributor in Dayton which I bought a couple of things from with good results(I can't recall the name of the place) :http://www.winegard.com/offair/amplifiers.htm
Info on Blonder-Tongue preamps here ( I use a early 80's model Suburban II for my dayton antenna --- It has been, on the mast and in pretty much continious use with one antenna or another for 24 years and still works great ) :http://www.starkelectronic.com/btk1-1.htm
Probably more than you wanted to know --- Oh -- One other thing -- With all of the above amps, you mount the amp on the mast, and you put the power supply for the amp Inside(along the coax run somewhere) so you can plug it into A/C ... It supplies power to the amp via the Coax -- Doesn't really matter "where" inside you put the power supply, except that you can't put a standard splitter(or anything else that will block the power that goes from power supply to the mast mount preamp) between the preamp and power supply. So, you put the splitters/etc between the power supply and the "TV"(or TV's).
I have the power supplies for my mast mount preamps in the attic, just before splitting signals that go to different rooms. (I feed as many as 10 different devices in 4 different rooms the "feed" from my Dayton antenna, for instance with additional amplification other than the mast mount preamp -- Dayton towers are of course only 12 miles away and are strong signals off my CM4228 8-Bay UHF antenna side mounted 25 FT up on the tower).
Hope this helps.