Fiscal Court votes yes to broadband services agreement

The Caldwell County Fiscal Court entered into an agreement with Pennyrile Rural Electric Cooperative Tuesday. The broadband services agreement establishes fund amounts, construction timelines and other requirements as outlined. The purpose of the agreement is to build internet infrastructure in the county, enabling residents to access internet services.

A broadband services agreement between Pennyrile Electric Cooperative, Hopkinsville Electric System and the Caldwell County Fiscal Court was approved during a Tuesday meeting.

“This is a good way to spend our ARPA funds,” Judge-Executive Larry Curling said.

Curling explained the American Rescue Plan Act funds have limitations, but internet infrastructure is not limited, insofar as exercising grant proposals and implementing economic development projects.

“I don’t know how we can do anything any better,” Magistrate Jeff Boone said. “I’m not going to guarantee it is going to get to every home that Pennyrile serves.”

Boone noted rural electrical cooperatives fair better in rural counties because they function to serve customers. He said the for-profit companies present complications.

“For-profit companies are trying to prevent these coops from running fiber,” Curing said.

Jeff Simms said, “Nobody is willing to pay two or three hundred dollars a month for internet.”

He explained subsidies enable consumers to access internet services at lower rates, making high-speed internet more affordable.

As stated in the agreement, Pennyrile Electric and HES will “use all reasonable efforts to substantially complete the Network Extension Work within sixty months (5 years)” and, additionally, Pennyrile Electric and HES will match the County’s funding commitment of $1,000,000, and match any additional funding from any state or federal source required to complete the Network Extension Work.

The court has determined high-speed internet services is “a critical public utility need that directly impacts the vitality and quality of life within Caldwell County.”

•••

In other court happenings, Curling announced the county will hold its Household Hazardous Waste Collection event at the Legion Ballpark parking lot on Oct. 30.

The event starts at 8 a.m. and ends at noon. Items to be collected include ammonia, old chemistry sets, pool chemicals, wood strippers, floor cleaners, among others.

Also, Curling appointed Bruce Morris to the airport board.

The court reviewed the recording and indexing systems bids from the last meeting. Software Management, LLC was awarded the bid for providing recording and indexing system services.

The five-year lease provides hardware, software, and maintenance services for $1,069 per month.

Caldwell County Clerk Toni Watson said the expenditure and acquisition of new technology bring the clerk’s office up to date, increasing proficiency and simplicity of daily tasks while adding security.