Yates County Legislators have heard that constituents are dissatisfied with access to high speed internet service in the county, and they shared their own frustration with those who commented at their Jan. 14 meeting.
Legislators and representatives from Southern Tier Network and ECC, the organizations that helped bring fiber optic technology to Yates County explained the challenges of drawing internet service providers to rural areas — the sparse population.
District II Legislator Timothy Dennis, who represents Yates County on the STN board, told the public, “Most of the legislature shares the concerns of most of the comments regarding broadband.” Dennis said Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared victory in his broadband initiative because based on federal standards, if one house in a census block is reported as being served by an ISP, the entire census block is considered served (See the related column on page 4).
During the public comment portion of the monthly meeting, Anne Kiefer, one of the people who addressed the legislators, said a lack of broadband is a drag on economic progress. “The world is not going to wait for these people to catch up,” she said, adding that the community needs local, state and federal officials to work together to bring service to all rural areas. “The internet not only saves money, it generates income.”
Legislative Chairman Douglas Paddock said, “It is the intention of the legislature to bring broadband into more homes.” The county has used local funds and grants to build a fiber optic backbone to be the basis of expanded high speed service in the county, but few households have benefitted from the new network because no company has come forward with plans to serve private customers who live outside the county’s more densely populated areas.
It appears local elected officials will have to become creative to increase the penetration of broadband services into unserved and underserved rural areas.
“I don’t believe there is one solution,” said Steve Manning CEO of STN, who was making a quarterly presentation to the legislature. He said an option for wireless broadband that had been proposed in the town of Starkey does not appear to be feasible. An aerial survey did not show enough potential customers within the range of the potential tower.
Other business Jan. 14 included:
• EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION: The meeting began with recognition of 38 county employees who have completed a total of 545 years. Being recognized for 30 years of service are Corrections Officer Nicholas DiRisio and Jail Cook Phyllis Hamm. Recognized for 25 years are Probation Officer Jeffrey Snyder, Corrections Officer Christine Di Risio, Deputy Sheriff Lieutenant Scott Backer, and Heavy Equipment Operator Charles Ryder. Legislative Chairman Douglas Paddock told the employees, “All our county’s achievements are possible because of your efforts.”
• SOLAR ARRAY: The legislators authorized an agreement with Abundant Solar Power to research the feasibility of installing a commercial scale solar array at the closed landfill on Long Point Road in the town of Torrey.
• County Road: The legislators agreed to accept Airport Drive as a county road, and designated it officially as CR20.
• Highway Maps: Legislators approved spending $5,793 for 1,600 maps of Yates County roads.
• Public Hearing: Legislators scheduled a public hearing for 1:05 p.m. Feb. 11 in the legislative chambers to hear comments on an application for a community development block grant to assist Catholic Charities with expansion of office space which will also create a minimum of three jobs.
• Appointment: Edwin Moberg of the town of Potter was appointed to the Yates County Planning Board to represent the town of Potter.