Adding broadband service to the infrastructure necessary to attract business to an area today.
“Broadband is just as important anymore than any type of infrastructure,” a representative of a Kentucky Wired partner said.
That is the idea behind Kentucky Wired, a project designed to bring middle-mile broadband service to the entire state.
Jim Askins, a representative for NG-KIH Design Build LLC, one of the private partners in the public-private partnership charged with completing the project and maintaining it once completed, appeared before Mason County Commissioners Tuesday to give an update on progress.
The project is expected to be completed by 2020 and will improve internet accessibility and speed throughout the state, Askins said. But, he reminded commissioners, the project is a “middle mile” project, meaning finding a service provider to take the project into homes and businesses will be the responsibility of counties and communities.
The state was divided into six rings for the project and Mason County is within ring five, Askins said. What is called the backbone of the project runs from Germantown Road in Bracken County to Slack Pike and the AA Highway to Lewis County, with a spur taking the service to Robertson County. A “hut” or hub for Kentucky Wired was installed near Maysville Community and Technical College in December 2017.
Mason County Judge-Executive Joe Pfeffer said it is vital to attract an ISP and officials are working with providers, both those already in place and some who would be new to the area to complete the project locally. Otherwise, he said, “we’re going to have an interstate without any ramps.”
Mason County Road Supervisor Joe Brown gave an recap on road department activities and provided information on the most recent weather event to affect county roads. Weekend rainfall caused flooding in some areas, covering several roadways and damaging asphalt, Brown said. While the damage could have been worse, it was still another hit as the county works to repair roads damaged in the last flooding episode.
“There’s a lot of stabilization to be done, a lot of patchwork,” he said.
Troy Thomas, a representative of the company which provided assistance in restoring damage to Kansas Creek and Springdale caused by prior flooding also addressed the court.
Funding for the project came from the Emergency Watershed Protection program of the USDA, Thomas said, with the EWP providing 75 percent of the funding. The program offers technical and financial assistance to help local communities relieve imminent threats to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms and other natural disasters that impair a watershed.
“Kansas Creek has been a problem for some time,” Thomas said. The project involved installing 450 feet of steel rail walls at a cost of $200,000, he said. On Springdale Road, 250 feet of steel rail wall was installed, he said.
Another issue which the court addressed is a problem with trash collection customers not properly bagging garbage. According to Pfeffer, customers are required to bag all garbage and place it for collection the night before the scheduled pickup. The addition of a tipper truck to the fleet, which means the larger packer truck doesn’t have to travel smaller county roads, has brought the issue to light. With the tipper truck, garbage is collected before being emptied into the larger packer truck. Garbage that is not bagged is being blown out of the tipper truck before it is emptied.
Complaints have been lodged after garbage placed at the curb late is missed because the smaller truck works faster and tends to run earlier, Pfeffer said. There have also been concerns about the costs of garbage bags. While the county has been lax in enforcing the rules in the past, that will no longer be the case, he said.
Pfeffer said the county will be placing door hangers at residents’ home to outline the requirements and the importance of following those rules.
Officials also discussed a meeting Pfeffer and County Attorney John Estill plan to attend in Dover on Sept. 24.
A petition was filed in August with Mason County Court Clerk Stephanie Schumacher seeking a referendum on the dissolution of the city. The question will be on the General Election ballot in November and Pfeffer and Estill have been asked to meet with residents at a town hall meeting in Dover to discuss the issue.
If the ballot question is approved, the city would become part of the county. But that does not guarantee all current city services would be taken over by the county, Pfeffer said.
“Not every street and alley would become part of the county road system,” Pfeffer said. It is also unlikely street lights would be supported by county funds, he said.
“We’re not going to light up areas all over the county,” Pfeffer said as he pointed out the county only funds street lights for safety reason, primarily at road intersections.
“I think these issues need to be addressed before election day,” Pfeffer said.
In other business, commissioners:
— Learned a new weather warnign siren has been installed at May’s Lick.
— Approved reports from the sheriff, jailer, road department, animal shelter, solid waste, treasurer and landfill.
— Approved the second reading of an updated sign ordinance.
— Renewed leases with Public Advocacy and the Unified Prosecutorial System (Commonwealth’s Attorney).
— Approved a maintain agreement for a turnaround on Lou Ginn Lane.’