The Union County Board of Supervisors Monday approved a formal request for passage of legislation that could lead to providing high-speed internet service throughout the county.
Rep. Sam Creekmore and Sen. Kathy Chism sponsored bills in the Senate and the House for that purpose, but both apparently died in committee April 1.
The House and Senate bills were similar in that they would have allowed the New Albany Light, Gas and Water system to lease excess, unused or underused fiber cable to provide the internet service. Although New Albany would lease the fiber it would be available in parts of Benton, Marshall and Tippah counties as well as Union.
The committee death may not mean the end of the effort.
“I am trying again in January,” Rep. Creekmore told NEMiss.news. “However, there is not a clear answer whether the bill is actually needed for the co-ops to run their lines on city property. The bill’s purpose was to remove any doubt. Brandon (Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley) thinks we can still achieve everything without the bill.”
Presley signed orders in Tupelo earlier Monday designating nine local electric cooperative subsidiaries for $91,338,620 in monies from the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to expand broadband access. “Official state designation as approved carriers by us was the final step before cooperatives could begin receiving the dollars, which will benefit 42,153 homes and businesses in North Mississippi,” Presley said. Similar ceremonies were to be held Wednesday with 4 County Electric and Delta Electric and on Friday with East MS Electric.
Previous legislation allows utility co-operatives to provide internet service but New Albany is one of only a few municipalities that own their own light, gas and water system rather than relying on a co-op.
In personnel Monday, supervisors approved naming Joe Reed assistant receiving clerk and shop foreman for the road department, and hiring Robert Childs as mechanic for the road department.
They approved a pay increase for Alex Bryant for completing the law enforcement academy and being certified.
Supervisors also approved requests to change Luke Taylor from full-time deputy to part-time deputy and Tanner Golding from part-time deputy to full—time deputy.
In purchasing, the approved low quotes for culverts from G and O Supply and a replacement dump truck engine from Jasper Engines and Transmissions.
Concerning industrial development, the board approved money transfers for continued work on the Martintown North Industrial Park. Grants from the Delta Regional Authority and Mississippi Development Authority are helping finance the project.
The board also granted a real property tax exemption for S & A Industries, Emerald Mississippi and Abby Manufacturing. Tax Assessor-Collector Tameri Dunnam explained that board approval to not charge tax is needed in these specific cases because each is leasing its property from Union County.
In departmental business, Sheriff Jimmy Edwards got approval to get new chairs for the law enforcement lobby. Part of the building is being renovated in conjunction with a new E-911 system being installed and Edwards said the chair and sofa are “horrible.” Supervisors agreed on the need but all agreed the sheriff probably can find some suitable chairs less expensive than the $230 cost of those he initially looked at.
It is possible that some local company may donate furniture, as has been done in the past, or may have affordable used but good furniture.
Before adjourning, the board met with industrial developer Gary Chandler with Three Rivers Planning and Development District in executive session concerning a development issue. No action was reported.
The next scheduled board of supervisors meeting will be Monday, April 19, at 10 a.m.broadband, fiber, internet, legislation, New Albany, Northeast Mississippi, Union County, Union County Board of Supervisors