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The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
July 10, 2019     The Monroe County Reporter
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July 10, 2019

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July10, 2019 Page 7Jk l ] orter @ By Richard Dumas Monroe County Commis- sioners on Tuesday, July 2 hired Bolingbroke-based Gradwell Construction Company, Inc. $376,780 to build a concrete pad, sidewalks and curb and gutter as well as to provide parking lot striping at the yet-to-be-complet- ed Monroe County Fire Station headquarters on Juliette Road. Gradwell Construction was the lone bidder on the project. County manager Jim Hedges said the county has spent just over $1.1 million on the new fire station prior to the concrete and estimated the final project cost at just over $1.9 million. Both District I commis- sioner Larry Evans and District 3 commissioner John Ambrose said they thought the concrete cost was too high and suggested putting asphalt around the fire station instead. However, District 2 commissioner Eddie Rowland said he didn't think asphalt would be strong enough to last with fire trucks pulling in and out regularly and instead motioned to approve Hedges' recommenda- tion to contract with Gradwell Construction, which was sec- onded by commission chairman Greg Tapley. Hedges told commissioners that if the contract with Gradwell Construction was not approved at the July 2 meeting, it could set the fire station project back at least another month-and-a-half. After about 15 minutes of discussion, District 4 commis- sioner George Emami, who had been leading a public internet forum downstairs, joined the meeting to break the deadlock. While commissioners waited for Emami, Ambrose consulted by phone with former county build- ing inspector Bentley Cox, who told Ambrose that revising the current pad design plan wouldn't be wise because it could make the driveway too narrow for the fire trucks to enter and exit. After talking with Cox, Ambrose reversed his position and sup- ported going ahead with putting concrete around the building. Commissioners then approved by a 3-1 vote to contract with Gradwell Construction with Evans the lone dissenter. Emami abstained, saying he missed the majority of the debate. Following the vote, Maynards" Mill Road resident Fred Dungan lauded commissioners' decision saying although there are variet ies of asphalt capable of doing job he thinks concrete will hold' up better in hot weather. v. r .a -4- By Richard Dumas About 100 Monroe County residents interested in better internet service learned at a public forum last Tuesday, July 2 that "nothing is gonna happen overnight." Todd Edwards, Deputy Legislative Director of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), told audience members that two key Georgia Senate bills will affect internet expansion. Georgia Senate Bill 402, approved during the 2018 legislative session, allows the Georgia Department of Transportation (GD OT) to lease right-of-ways for deployment of communi- cations technologies with a minimum download speed of 25 megabytes-per- second as well as enables the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to create a map of "unserved areas" in order to identify areas eligible for broadband expan- sion grants. Also, Georgia Senate Bill 2, approved during the 2019 legislative session, authorizes Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs) to provide broad- band services, including in electrical easements. Ed- wards, who encouraged au- dience members to Google search "Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative" to see the work the DCA has done on the mapping project, said $2 million in government funding has already been dedicated to broadband expansion. But Edwards cautioned: "Nothing is gonna happen overnight." Herschel Arant, Senior Vice President of Engineer- ing and Energy Supply for Central Georgia EMC, said Central Georgia EMC is still fact-finding in terms of someday providing internet services, having just gotten government approval to join the broadband busi- ness. "We want to make sure we're delivering a quality product;' Arant said. Arant encouraged citi- zens to provide the DCA A standing room only crowd listens as commission chairman Oreg Tapley dicsusses inter- net expansion in Monroe County at a forum last Tuesday. (Photo/Richard Dumas) with accurate information about broadband service in the area because it will en- able Central Georgia EMC to pursue grant assistance that could make internet expansion possible. Commission chairman Greg Tapley urged citi- zens to test their internet speeds through a new lOS/ Android mobile app called TestlT provided in part by the National Association of Counties (NACo). Tapley also asked Arant if Central Georgia EMC has a time- line for broadband expan- sion, and Arant replied that enhancements will depend upon infrastructure fund- ing availability. Erin Cook, Director of Marketing/Member Services for Southern Riv- ers Energy, said that each power company has to look at what works best for it in terms of providing internet and said what a competitor finds successful might not be what's best for Southern Rivers. Cook said of inter- net expansion: "There are a lot of challenges, but there's opportunity there" Paul Chambers, Regional Director for AT&T, said age home has 13 devices connected to internet. Chambers told the audi- ence that intemet options are expanding regularly, citing the availability of hot spots or fixed 5G wireless through AT T's AirGig initiative thalwould run wireless intemet through an above ground antenna system. Jim Bond, Vice President of Public Service Com- munications, said Public Service Communications, which bought the for- mer City of Forsyth cable system in 2014, now offers internet speeds up to 100 megabytes-per-second. Bond said Forsyth Ca- bleNet is looking to expand further out into Monroe County. "We're just making every effort we can to serve you the best we can" Bond said. Tapley then asked the cost of bringing broadband to all currently unserved or underserved county resi- dents. Bond estimated the price tag on such a venture at over $40 million. David Reynolds, formerly of Reynolds Cable and currently of Zito Media, added that pole attachment fees are costly for internet providers and said it costs about $46,000 per mile to run fiberoptic cable. All five Monroe County Commissioners, state Sen. John Kennedy and state House Reps. Susan Holmes and Dale Washburn were. among the contingent who filled the lobby of the county administration building. Following an hour of listening to the panel- ists, audience members spent another hour asking questions. Commissioner George Emami stayed downstairs to moderate the Q & A time while the . -) other four commissioners conducted their regular meeting in the commis- sioner chamber upstairs. Commissioners have ' allocated $700,000 in the': upcoming 2020 Special " Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) for interne expansion. .i "Certified Roof Clean,ng", GET RIF OF: Black Streaks @ ! Moss Algae&Lichens ~]~ Your largest investment is most likely your home, the roof is a large part of that. So, when it comes to-~ protecting and maintaining it, trust the professionals~ at Gleam Power Washing! Our roof cleaning service; includes a soft wash treatment that terminates all infestations and restores the look of your Shingle, Tile and Metal Roofs!!" BEFORE AFTER ;7) ,! r~ Call or Text Gleam Power Washing todayF it's evident the Georgia legislature is making broad- band expansion a priority. Chambers, who said AT&T has invested $5 billion in Georgia in the past three years, said one of the big- gest challenges in broad- band speed is the number of devices being hooked up to internet, saying the aver- Pastor Aubrey Duncan and Members= Invite You To Come Celebrate With Saturday, July 13th, 2019 Sabbath School 9:15 AM- 10:30 AM Praise and Testimony 10:35 AM- 10:55 AM Divine Worship Service 11:00 AM- 12:30 PM 281 S. Frontage Road (Exit 187 off Interstate 75} Forsyth, GA 31029 For reservation and more information, call 404:322-5683 1 .A