The Roane County Commission met in regular session on Monday and approved two resolutions that commits around $1.5 million of American Rescue Plan money for broadband.
“Roane County’s investment in broadband is investment worthy by the increase over time in property value, business and personal development due to the amenity of high speed internet access and allowing owners to work from home,” both resolutions state. “The ability to conduct business from home and improve educational opportunities is also a major benefit.”
The broadband would be provided by Comcast and Twin Lakes, not the county.
“Twin Lakes will be in the most eastern part of South of the River,” Roane County Executive Ron Woody said. “You also have Spectrum down there now.”
One of the resolutions earmarks $930,000 for Comcast to use and the other earmarks $555,300 for Twin Lakes to use.
“Both companies are having to make grant applications to the state of Tennessee,” Woody explained. “These are competitive grants. Just because we’re passing this doesn’t mean the grants will be awarded.”
High speed internet is unavailable in some parts of the county. Woody said partnering with Comcast and Twin Lakes is advantageous.
“ECD (Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development) has advised that it is in the best interest of counties and communities to have skin in the game, to be a partnership of it and they were asking for 10%,” Woody explained.
Congress approved the American Rescue Plan last year. Roane County’s allotment was $10.36 million.
“They are competitive grants,” Woody said of the Comcast and Twin Lakes broadband resolutions. “This money we are setting aside to be partners with them. If the grants are unsuccessful this money gets released again for us to do other projects.”
The broadband resolutions were just a few of many the Commission dealt with on Monday.
The county’s license agreement with TVA for the Swan Pond Sports Complex remains in place. A resolution that called for the agreement to be terminated was pulled from Monday’s agenda. Only eight of the 14 commissioners attended Monday’s meeting.
“We have eight here, so for anything to pass, it’s going to have to be unanimous,” Acting Chairman Darryl Meadows said.
The complex has multiple soccer fields. Commissioner Ben Wilson said he was concerned that the youth soccer teams that use the complex wouldn’t have a place to play if the county terminated its agreement with TVA.
“I just want to be really careful with this because there’s so many people using it,” Wilson said.
“We’re right here at spring and we don’t want the kids to be without,” Commissioner David Bell added.
Woody said he could sense by the discussion that an 8-0 vote was unlikely, so he pulled the resolution.
“There weren’t enough votes here to pass it tonight,” Woody said. “It was pretty evident, so there was no need to discuss it for another half hour.”
Woody said the purpose of terminating the agreement was so that a city could negotiate a lease with TVA for use of the property.
A resolution to select a new County Commission chairman was postponed until next month.
“We only have eight people here in attendance,” Meadows said. “I think this is something that needs consideration by as many commissioners as possible.”
The special-called meeting to fill the open commission seat in District 7 didn’t happen on Monday because only six commissioners showed up.
“We do not have a quorum so we cannot hold a meeting,” Meadows said.
The special-called meeting was scheduled prior to Monday’s regular commission meeting. Meadows said the plan is to try and have the special-called meeting in March.