Ozark County commissioners still plan to partner with four other counties and the White River Valley Electric Cooperative to bring high-speed fiber-optic internet to the area.
Last week, Ozark County Commissioners John Turner, Gary Collins and Layne Nance heard from WRVEC Director of Communications and Member Services Cassie Cunningham on the co-op’s proposal to bring the Internet fiber optic to Ozark and the four other counties they serve.
Since Time‘Reporting on the matter, WRVEC amended its proposal to include the potential for three Internet plans instead of a $ 89 per month plan, which would have included a guaranteed 100 Mbps plan for subscribers.
Presidential Commissioner Turner was concerned that low-income people could afford the $ 89 package.
Cunningham told the Time that WRVEC now offers three high-speed plans, which would range from $ 69 to $ 99 per month. She said that for $ 69 per month, customers would enjoy download and upload speeds of 100 mbps, while for $ 79 per month they could subscribe to a 250 mbps plan and for $ 99 per month, they could use a 1 gps plan.
âSounds better to me,â Turner said. “My concerns were with low-income people and residents of our county in the eastern county who do not use WRVEC and who belong to the Howell-Oregon Electric Co-op.” According to a spokesperson for Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative, they have 1,589 customers in Ozark County, Caulfield, Bakersfield, Tecumseh and Dora areas.
WRVEC’s proposal would be a $ 234 million project, which the co-op would largely fund. However, WRVEC is seeking federal and state grants and is asking counties to contribute to the project.
Cunningham said WRVEC is asking the five counties to collectively contribute $ 10 million. She said Ozark County’s share would be around $ 1.5 million.
âWell, they don’t get $ 1.5 million. I can tell you, âTurner said Monday during a discussion of the proposal.
There was a discussion last week between Commissioners and County Clerk Brian Wise over using some of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to pay for fiber internet. optical. Ozark County receives nearly $ 1.8 million in ARPA money, having already received $ 890,971 and expecting another $ 890,972 in 2022.
The county has already spent more than $ 208,000 of that money on sheriff’s department salaries, new automatic doors for the courthouse that will soon be installed, the installation of two new water fountains in the courthouse. and a few small projects in county offices.
âWe’re still waiting to see what the other counties do and what their final plan (WRVEC) will look like,â Turner said. “We’re certainly not against the idea, we just want something that serves all of our residents.”
Cunningham said the project would be a five-year construction and would start in more rural areas of their service area, such as Theodosia.
She said the cooperative expects high-speed internet to be present in 90 percent of its customers’ homes and businesses within three years as part of the plan.