REC seeks funds for rural Internet

Published 9:18 am Thursday, August 20, 2009

JACKSON — Despite the request coming in late, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners approved drafting a letter of support for Roanoke Electric Cooperative.

On Monday afternoon, County Manager Wayne Jenkins came before the board with a request that he received Friday from Roanoke Electric Cooperative regarding a letter of support for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (federal stimulus) funds.

The request came with a deadline of 5 p.m. the same day it was presented before the board. During the work session held before the meeting, Commissioner Virginia Spruill mentioned how late the request was submitted for consideration and how the board does have a set deadline.

Jenkins said the funds would be used by REC to help make high speed Internet accessible to rural consumers at a reasonable rate.

According to the letter, REC, along with many other electric cooperatives across the country, is partnering with IBEC an Internet Service Provider based near Huntsville, Ala. REC and the other co-ops plan to utilize their existing power lines for the Internet service.

“They are applying for a grant from the Rural Utilities Services to pay for the equipment needed and for the labor to install the equipment,” said the letter signed by REC Executive Vice President and CEO Curtis Wynn. “We need letters of support from our local elected officials and their respective offices to strengthen our application.”

The commissioners agreed accessibility to high speed Internet is a large need in Northampton County.

“I’m certainly in favor of it,” said Commission Vice Chair Fannie Greene. She questioned how much the project would cost.

Jenkins said he did not know as all he was provided was the letter. He added the county is not responsible for any of the costs.

Greene motioned to approve drafting a letter of support for REC; Spruill offered a second. The motion passed on a 3-0 vote.

Earlier the board voted to recuse Commissioner Chester Deloatch from the decision as he serves on the REC Board of Directors. Commissioner James Hester was absent from the meeting.

Commission Chair Robert V. Carter directed Jenkins to deliver a message to Wynn in regards to sending future requests in a timely manner.