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Commissioners to discuss extending, upgrading internet in rural areas

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — With a short agenda, Rowan County commissioners on Monday are scheduled to receive an update from the Rural Broadband Task Force about a survey of unserved and underserved areas.

The task force has worked over the previous year to review areas where internet isn’t available or speeds available are too slow and identify areas where private businesses can help build or enhance service.

Monday’s agenda states that the update will include a recap of the task force’s efforts as well as a presentation by Open Broadband LLC about a grant opportunity with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Monday’s agenda specifically states, “The board will hear from this new private sector provider and how they are looking to provide coverage to one of our key identified region in the Scotch Irish community with federal grant assistance.”

Scotch Irish is located in the far northwestern corner of Rowan County, at the border with Iredell and Davie counties. Open Broadband is a company that provides hybrid fiber and fixed wireless internet to communities, the company states on its website. Its chief technology officer is Kent Winrich, who formerly was director of the city of Salisbury’s Fibrant network.

Monday’s meeting will be at 3 p.m. in the Rowan County Administration Building — 130 W. Innes St.

In other business:

• As part of the consent agenda, commissioners will consider approving an ambulance franchise application by American Trans Med Incorporated.

If approved, the company, which already has a contract in Cabarrus County for non-emergency services, would be able to transport emergency and non-emergency patients in Rowan County.

In a letter included with Monday’s agenda, Rowan County EMS Division Chief Lennie Cooper described the need for the new ambulance service.

“Novant Health Rowan Medical Center has difficulty in getting discharged patients that require ambulance transportation out of their facility,” Cooper wrote. “I have worked with them for years searching for a long-term solution. To date those solutions have not been sustainable.”

• Commissioners will consider a request to exceed the county’s noise ordinance from David and Shelly Velazquez.

The pair plan to host two events at their ranch property at 1025 Barringer Road, including a “St. Jude Horse Trail Ride” on May 11. A second event on May 25 would feature bull riding, live music and refreshments.

Agenda documents state the trail ride event would be a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

• Commissioners will consider board appointments.

Jim Sides, a former county commissioners chairman, has applied for reappointment to the Rowan County Board of Social Services. Sides has been a long-serving member of the board. If reappointed, he would serve three years.

Christopher Kleinsorge has applied for a two-year term on the Ellis Volunteer Fire Department board.

County Commissioner Mike Caskey has applied for a two-year term on the Enochville Volunteer Fire Department board.

Jeffrey E. Miller has applied for a term ending December 2020 on the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department board.

Michael Deal, Barbara Simmons and Eddie Beaver Jr. have applied for two-year terms on the Mount Mitchell Volunteer Fire Department Board.

Michael Julian has submitted his resignation from the Rowan Transit System Advisory Committee. Commissioners will consider accepting his resignation.

Sam Wetmore, Robert F. Turner and Wesley Hastings have applied for two-year terms on the Woodleaf Volunteer Fire Department board.

Contact editor Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4248.



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