AMORY – During Monroe County Electric Power Association’s (MCEPA) quarterly meeting Oct. 1, the cooperative’s board of directors heard about the potential broadband internet issue and tabled appointing a new board member.
As far as the internet issue, cooperative member Alan Pearson, who is technology networking manager for the Monroe County School District, enthusiastically endorsed the broadband initiative.
“The new broadband option would be a great benefit to our schools,” he said. “Our current broadband options are limited and expensive. Day-to-day school business requires dependable internet service.”
Pearson elaborated that current limitations are aggravated by the fact that AT&T has competing interests tied up in court.
“What you are undertaking has a lot of potential. This is the biggest thing since the internet first came to our schools in 1997,” he said.
MCEEPA General Manager Barry Rowland shared a summary of findings from the second feasibility study that was revised to reflect a four-year build-out plan rather than two years.
No substantial change from the initial study was indicated. The estimated time to realize cumulative profit under the four-year plan was extended by one year to 16, with a net income not expected before year nine of operation. A three percent annual growth rate was projected along with a maximum debt balance of $32 million projected by year four of operation.
Board members agreed the four-year model appeared to be the better approach. Further action on the matter awaits results of a survey recently mailed to cooperative members to gauge interest in broadband and further review of the feasibility studies.
During a community meeting addressing the potential of broadband availability in early August in Becker, MCEPA board member Rickey Camp resigned. Rowland read Camp’s resignation letter, and the board voted to accept it.
Several MCEPA members have submitted letters of interest to fill Camp’s post. Names released by Rowland to date include Andrea Stevens, Richard Smith, Brad Leach, James Bell, Robert Doss and Derrick Forrester.
Another applicant was mentioned but was immediately disqualified because a relative is an employee of MCEPA. Applications will be accepted until the next quarterly meeting in December.
Smith and Bell were the only applicants who attended the meeting. Both were offered an opportunity to speak. After introducing themselves, both men assured the board that while they both favor launching the broadband service, their priorities were first to contribute to the success of MCEPA.
The board took no action on filling the vacant post at this time.
“It would only be fair to invite the other candidates to appear and speak to us,” said board president Lem Holman.