Internet easement approved

Published 6:22 pm Tuesday, October 8, 2019

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JACKSON – Roanoke Electric Cooperative is working towards bringing broadband access to its customers and surrounding neighbors, and the Northampton Board of Commissioners approved a measure here during their Oct. 7 meeting to make that goal easier.

“We have a request for an easement to use one of your water towers to erect an antenna that’s going to help us deploy broadband in one of your communities,” explained REC President and CEO Curtis Wynn.

The water tower he was referring to is located in Lasker, and he said they estimated about 3-6 months before the broadband expansion work would be completed there.

Commissioner Kelvin Edwards noted that having better broadband internet access would definitely benefit Northeast Academy which is also located within the town.

Board Chair Charles Tyner asked Northampton Public Works Director Kirk Rogers if they had any problems approving the easement with the water tower.

“We see no issues,” Rogers reported.

“We don’t want to get internet and then have no water,” Tyner joked before calling for a motion from the Board.

Commissioner Nicole Boone motioned to approve the easement, and Edwards seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor.

Outside of the easement request, Wynn also provided some general updates about the progress of the “Roanoke Connect” program. He stated they had connected about 425 customers in their five-county service area to broadband so far, and recently passed legislation would also help make it easier to expand broadband to potential customers outside of their service area.

“We are making plans to go beyond our service territory at a more rapid pace than what we had planned before,” Wynn continued, but stressed that he didn’t have a timeline yet for specific towns and areas.

Tyner noted that residents of Pleasant Hill in particular had been asking about broadband expansion. Wynn said he would update the Board again when he had more information about when they’d be ready for that community.

“It’s a big project. We’re just as motivated and excited about it as the citizens are,” Wynn said, adding a thanks to his hardworking staff.

“We’re going to keep working hard at it. We’ve been in the electricity business 80 years, but we’re just getting into this telecommunications space. We’re learning as we go,” he concluded.