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Business leaders picked to decide future of Salisbury’s Fibrant

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The City Council on Tuesday picked 10 local business leaders to serve on a committee that will help decide the fate of Fibrant.

Members of the committee are presidents, CEOs, chief operating officers and vice presidents of local companies or colleges. The committee will meet, mostly in closed session, with the Salisbury City Council to pick a company to buy, lease or manage Fibrant — an internet, phone and TV service owned and operated by the city.

Tuesday’s decision received unanimous support from council members present at the meeting. Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell was absent.

The committee members include:

• Nelson Murphy, chief operating officer at Catawba College.

• Steve Fisher, chairman and CEO of F&M Bank.

• Greg Alcorn, CEO of Global Contact Services.

• Dyke Messinger, CEO of Power Curbers.

• John Ketner, president of Rowan Investment Co.

• Dari Caldwell, president of Novant Health Rowan Medical Center.

• Teross Young, vice president of government relations and regulatory affairs for Delhaize America.

• Matt Barr, CEO of Carolina Color.

• Jimmy Jenkins, president of Livingstone College.

• Luke Fisher, owner of Carrol Fisher Construction Co. and president of Fisher Realty.

Starting with a request for proposals that went out in January, city officials have narrowed the list of Fibrant suitors from 14 to three. The names of the companies or details of their proposals for Fibrant are unclear. Salisbury officials have cited exemptions to public-records laws as a reason not to provide information about interested companies.

City Manager Lane Bailey said the Fibrant committee will work with the City Council to pick a single company. The first of several expected meetings will be later this month.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Brian Miller clarified that committee members won’t have decision-making authority about the future of Fibrant. Instead, they will serve in an advisory role to the City Council. Miller said he’s confident members of the Fibrant committee will carefully examine the details of the Fibrant proposals.

“Do you know these folks?” Miller asked. “These folks are not people that are going to sit back and say ‘yes ma’am” and “yes sir.” They are opinionated folks, and, to be candid, some of them have been vocal critics.”

The process for picking members of the Fibrant committee worked slightly different from other Salisbury advisory boards. There was no formal application. Mayor Karen Alexander said about 20 people expressed interest, in one way or another, in being on the committee. Outside public meetings, the council narrowed the list to 10.

Alexander called the temporary nature of the Fibrant committee a reason the appointment process was done differently. She cited the time in which council members wante to make a decision as a reason for a different process than usual.

“This is a very temporary and specific task for specific skill sets,” Alexander said.

On Tuesday, Bailey estimated the Fibrant committee will finish its work in three months.

Councilman David Post questioned the transparency of the appointments and encouraged a different process if the Fibrant committee becomes permanent.

“I’ve had a number of people call me and say, ‘Why weren’t there applications out there?’” Post said. “I’d just like to suggest that if (the committee) has a life beyond the more immediate task that we consider making it more transparent and set it up like other committees and boards we have.”

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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