Greenville Town Council Approves Broadband LeaseMar 14th, 2013 | By Lynette | Category: Front Page
The Greenville Town Council devoted several minutes to discussing the proposed broadband lease agreement with the North Florida Broadband Association, with NFBA General Manager Richelle Sucara at the podium, summing up what was in the contract and answering questions.
Sucara explained that the NFBA, a company/association that encompasses 14 counties in rural North Florida, had formed in 2009 to bring enhanced, affordable broadband and Internet access to underserved and unserved areas of the state. By leasing sites on government “vertical infrastructure” (for example, water towers) for its antennae and equipment, the NFBA will be able to send at least a five mile signal, or even a nine- or ten- mile signal, depending on the town’s topography in different areas.
The next step would be the hookups for customers, with emergency management, hospitals, jails, police stations, government buildings, libraries and schools first on the priority list, followed by business and commercial entities, then residents.
Broadband capability will provide such services as live streaming of Internet instruction and online testing for schools and transmittal of x-rays, CAT scans and other diagnostic imaging between local hospitals and distant medical specialists.
The contract for the tower leases would not be exclusive, meaning that other entities could also place their equipment on the same tower, as long as the two signals didn’t interfere with each other. Also, when the contract expires in five years, Greenville would be free to choose another service provider, if another one came in with a lower bid. In a few instances, the NFBA has attracted such competition from other carriers.
The Council voted unanimously to approve the contract.
In the public works department, Supervisor J.C. Fead reported that there have been several episodes of the new well failing to communicate with the computer signal that controls it. The well was kicking off and then failing to alert the computer that it had shut down; someone then had to drive out to the well site and manually restart it. Fead added that he had called the company that installed the well, but they had been reluctant to travel out to Greenville and look at the problem – more or less “blowing off” Fead’s complaint, as one council member put it.
The problem, as Fead saw it, was that the signal between the well, computer and water plant was simply failing to get through at times; perhaps the antenna needed to be higher, but whatever it was, it needed to be rectified while the well was still under warranty. The Council members agreed with Fead, and decided that they would officially contact the engineering and plumbing company the next day. The warranty on the well expires in August of 2013.
Visiting County Commissioner Ronnie Moore, who was seated in the audience, told the council members that the County Commission perhaps could work with the city of Greenville to help with some of the roads that were in bad shape, perhaps by piggy-backing some Greenville roadwork with county roadwork to help lower the cost, or assisting the town with getting money it might be eligible for from the gas tax. He suggested, if the Council members were interested, meetings and workshops to help prioritize some of the roads and figure out which roads might be eligible, based on whether they were state, county or city maintained.
Town Consultant Jim Parrish sounded the cautionary note that Greenville had “many more needs than these small grants could pay for,” a situation that was not unique among small, rural communities in the current economy. State funds that had paid for improvements in years past had disappeared when the legislature stopped funding them.
As one example, Parrish cited the city’s wastewater plant that was breaking down, a health and safety issue that outranked road repair on the priority list. The people running it were “doing a great job with duct tape and baling wire, making small repairs here and there,” he said. The Florida DEP, which inspects the facility once a year, has said that, “‘we don’t know how you guys keep it running.’”
The plant itself is starting to crack along the walls; it will cost about one million dollars to replace it, and one of the community development grants that Greenville might be eligible for is capped at $600,000. It would take two grant cycles to pay for replacing the aging wastewater plant.
In other items of business, the Council approved a request from the Jefferson County Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary for permission to hold monthly fundraisers in Haffye Hayes Park, cooking and selling dinners. The events would take up only a small area of the park every third Friday of each month, from March 15 through October 18. Since the fundraisers have been held there before with no problem and the money goes to pay for the Veteran’s Day Parade (held in Greenville as well as Jefferson), and because there is a lot of Greenville citizen participation, the council approved the request.
The Council also approved Tri-County Health Center’s request to use the park Friday, March 29, from noon until 4 p.m. for its annual Easter Egg Hunt, and agreed to make a $25 donation toward prizes for drawings and contests.
Discussion on hiring a new town attorney was tabled until the next meeting, as was a decision on whether or not to elect on of their number to join the Madison County Chamber of Commerce as a representative of the town of Greenville. Cindy Vees, Executive Director of the Chamber, put the proposal before the council, and said that she would be glad to talk to anyone interested in the position and explain what responsibilities were involved. The decision on who will take it will likely be made at the next meeting.